Thursday, April 19, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert (Of Lent) - Recap

As I promised one visitor and fellow voyager on the Way, I wanted to make a few notes here of what I learned from posting about fasting, esp. in the Old Testament. As the trite expression goes: your mileage may vary.

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1. Fasting never comes without repentance and humbling oneself before God. Put another way, repentance and humility is the purpose of fasting and these go hand-in-hand.

2. Repentance and fasting is also connected intimately with preparation for intense prayer and, in that time of prayer, fasting, and repentance, seeking the will of God and preparing for mission.

3. Repentance and fasting and prayer is purifying to the heart (or as the Greek Fathers would say - the nous when done for proper purposes. This seems to result in 'seeing God' or 'knowing the will of God' much like Daniel seeing the Angel who touches him and who learns about the Messiah. Here I think of the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' An important caveat here . . . you don't do the 'ritual' to see visions, like some sort of shamanic vision quest. Rather, proper God-ward repentance and humility, prayer and fasting simply opens up our hearts. We should not seek visions. That would be an 'improper purpose.'

4. Finally, repentance-fasting-prayer is a God-blessed means by which we might, to our varying abilities, become as Psalm 50 (LXX) says, that 'contrite and humble heart' that God 'will not despise.' Nevertheless, we recognize as Christians that the truly contrite and humble heart was that One who took on our human nature and was willing to suffer death, even death on a cross. Thus we must take as our model in this as in all things our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Only Begotten Word become flesh.

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Having posting 'what I learned' I can only say this is 'book-learnin' as my own efforts at prayer and fasting are as nothing and I struggle and fall, and gains made yesterday often seem swallowed up today. So pray for me, and take my ideas as friendly conversation.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Mimi said...

I have learned that you need to get up when you fall, and other than that, thinking I knew what I was doing was awfully prideful.

Great list, thank you.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Hilarius said...

Of course, any Orthodox Christian would look at my list and probably say - yeah, we know that . . .

The point for me was seeing the connections in the scriptures themselves . . . and simply because mother Church has said it's a good idea (i.e., lest someone else come along and say - you Orthodox are just being pietists and teaching traditions of men!).

Through your words thinking I knew what I was doing was awfully prideful I am condemned, of course, for it's awfully prideful of me to spout off as I do around here.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

NO, no, no! I didn't meant to imply that you were being prideful, I was just adding my own thoughts to the list - the first being that I had to learn that you don't give up when you fall (which is quite frankly my first instinct) and second being that fasting helps winnow away pride.

I appreciate your posts very, very much, and I think that hearing what you learn each Lent is important.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Hilarius said...

Mimi - I understood you to be speaking about yourself! I did not think you were attacking me (God forbid) but nevertheless, the words condemn me because I too often think 'I know what I'm doing' - it's an occupational hazard I suppose.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Whew! Good to hear.

9:31 AM  

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