Thursday, August 1, 2019


This is an amazing tradition in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church and the schismatic Eastern Orthodox. We don’t need it in the west, but we need to recover the stricter fasting and abstinence days of the Church prior to 1966 when Pope Paul VI relaxed way too much in this regard.

What traditions of fasting and abstinence should the west recover?

The Dormition Fast: The Eastern Christian season leading to the Assumption


Marc said...

The main idea that needs to be recovered is that everyone has the same fasting rules rather than choosing each for himself. There is merit to corporate fasting of whatever sort — it builds up the community, tends toward obedience, and roots out spiritual pride. Also the liturgical prayers often mention fasting on days when people no longer fast, so there an incongruity there.

Recovering the practice can be as simple as no meat on Fridays and a return to some actual rules during Lent. Also, recovering a Eucharistic fast would be a very salutary thing.

Anonymous said...

The "schmismatic" (likely they think the same way about Rome) Eastern Orthodox do not regard the assumption of Mary as a dogma, in the sense in their view, whether Mary was or was not assumed into heaven has no bearing on our salvation, unlike say the Virgin Birth or the resurrection. But they do observe it as a pious tradition.

The fasting and abstinence rules of the Eastern Orthodox Church would be pretty rigid to most people, like no meat or dairy products during all of Lent. But I wonder how widely observed those practices are among Eastern Orthodox in the United States.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree with you Marc and that our fasting and abstinence prior to the 1966 relaxation was a much a cultural unifier as it was a religious custom for individual Catholics.

The Church complains about fierce individualism of Catholics in the pre-Vatican II Mass in terms of the manner they would participate and yet when it came to fasting and abstinence it now has become a fierce individualism.

It smacks of the heresy of dualism that having all Catholics do the same cultural thing around the world in terms of ascetical practices is somehow separate from the other aspect of Church unity in terms of doctrine or morals.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I engage in all the ascetical self-penance a person needs by reading comments here...

Marc said...

"Sometimes I think I engage in all the ascetical self-penance a person needs by reading comments here..."

I know, right? Reading other people's opinions when they differ from my own is like wearing a thousand hair-shirts. I can't believe people are even allowed to have opinions with which I disagree, much less that they can freely share them.

JDJ said...

(-: Gotta love that Marc!

Anonymous said...

Differing opinions I have no problem with. Unlike you, I have no problem with the free flow of said differing opinions. I think that's one of the things that makes America great, don't you? (Same goes for sarcasm, eh Marc?)

What comes at times as a penance is the name-calling, the denigration of others, and the unwarranted aggression that, with the coming of the InterWeb, has burgeoned.

'Tis sad, to me at least.

Jacob said...

Father I of course agree with you, we who go to traditional parishes abstain from meat each Friday, abstain and or fast on Vigil days, fast/abstain on the Ember days etc. We fast from midnight before receiving communion (or 3 hours). It is part of our lives and seems so natural to us, specially the ember days with the change of the seasons. Its not hard, I encourage all Catholics to rediscover tradition, you will LOVE it.

Marc said...

Darnit, Anonymous, I agree with you.

And for what it's worth, I also have no problem with the free flow of differing opinions. I like differing opinions so much that I disagree with myself on a regular basis.

James Ignatius McAuley said...

We also say the Office of the Paraclesis from August 1 to August 14. On the dormition, some Churches even have a burial shroud of the Theotokos.

Православный физик said...

For the vast majority of the faithful, we follow the fast the best that we can within reason. In the Russian tradition at least (of which I am) we have the burial of the Theotokos on the eve of the feast. Greek and Antiochian traditions pray the Paraklesis of the Theotokos during this time where we pray for the living.

Anon at 909 AM, At least at my parish, the vast majority follow the fast strictly. The funny thing is that it'd not that big of a deal when it becomes a part of one's praxis. I don't dread fasting season in the same way from when I was a western Christian.

In a rare disagreement with Father, I actually think the West does need this fasting period time. Especially for what you guys are going through with the clergy scandals and the sexual abuse. These kinds of demons will be driven out with fasting and prayer.

When it comes to the schism, in all honesty, both sides are at fault for various reasons. I tend to think it's a bit of pot calling kettle black when the West accuses the Eastern Orthodox of being schismatic. While there are plenty of sinful problems in the East, the one thing that can be said is that there was not a destruction on Liturgical praxis and devotion.

rcg said...

Marc comes to read the blog comments. Not to praise them.

Anonymous was taught the language; and his profit from it is that he knows how to curse.

James Ignatius McAuley said...

Православный физик, One of the amazing things about the Byzantine Rite is the diversity within it. I have heard of the Greeks and Melkites using the Burial shroud and the tomb for the Theotokos on the 14th. I have never seen it in Ukrainian or Ruthenian Churches, though I believe there is a Moleben for the Theotokos said at this time. I, personally, do the office of the Paraclesis.

Newrome Press sells the Lamentations for the Theotokos. Some allege these to be a Latin innovation, but I have never seen anything like this in the pre or post Vatican II Roman rite books. This is true Byzantine devotional piety.

Here is a good line from it:

"The Precious Pearl of the Gospels is now stored within the secret treasury of God."

Having read the Six Books, Православный физик s, the Lamentations make theological sense.

In our Church, St Mary of the Dormition, we have an old painting from before World War 1 showing the apostles carrying the bier of our Lady and St. Michael out front holding his sword with Jephonias the Jewish priest on his knees holding up the bloody stumps where his hands were. The hands, of course, are still on the bier.

Thank you Father Allan, for your courtesy in allowing this sidebar between Byzantines. I remember serving mass in the 1980s on the morning before, St, Maximillian Kolbe, and then the next day, the Glorious Assumption!