Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lent is coming: East vs. West

Next Monday, actually.

Reminder, we're Byzantine Catholic; our Lent doesn't start on Ash Wednesday. Nor do we "celebrate" Ash Wednesday.

I was looking for a short blurb on the fasting rules that we observe, and I found this article from Catholic Online. It's called "For Byzantine Catholics, Lent is stricter."

Is it, really? Or is it just different? Someone like myself might find it harder, as I didn't grow up observing Lent in this way. But would cradle Byz Caths find it harder? No, not if they've never known anything different.

Why would it be seen as harder?

"Oh no, you guys start on MONDAY!!! That's two more days!!!!" 
Um, so? I think it makes a little more sense to start something big on a Monday, at the beginning of the week, but my very organized mind might be to blame.

"You can't eat any animal products except on the first day OR on Good Friday!"
Ehh, you deal. Besides, when the fasting rules were made, no one gave much thought to all of the junk food that would be invented. Hello chips and salsa. Hummus and crackers. You get my point. Besides, shrimp scampi made with only olive oil instead of oil and butter is still delicious.

"You don't eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays!!!"
Well, if you're Roman Catholic you aren't supposed to be eating meat on Fridays during Lent either. So what, we have one more day? The majority of people in the world don't eat meat every day. There's a trend going around called Meatless Monday. Is it more because it's forbidden on a certain day and you have to plan around it? Yeah, I can see how that would be a pain. It's annoying when you make something with meat in it on Saturday and you have to make sure the leftovers are either all gone by Sunday night or are the type that can last until Tuesday, because you don't want to waste food.

Side note: when Chris was younger, he and his brother would stay up really late on Fridays. Around 11:45 they would drive to a local Subway and order meaty sandwiches and drive home, just around the time the clock struck 12. It was officially Saturday at that point.

The other big difference is that there is no celebration of the Eucharist during the week. It is only on Sunday. For most people, this wouldn't matter since they only go to church on Sunday.

"What are YOU giving up???"
There isn't so much focus on what you're giving up and honestly, it shouldn't be a focus really no matter what denomination you are; it's more about what sacrifices you'll make for yourself and for others to be a better Christian. As St. Basil the Great said of Lent, "Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, suppressing evil desires and avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things – herein lies the true value of the fast."  I think we could ALL work on those wicked things, year round. ;-)

This Lent, I am going to focus on getting myself even healthier than I have been. This will involve the usual: eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, but it will also involve me looking into alternatives for my medical issues. There's no guarantee that I'll be able to find something, but it's worth investigating. There is a spirit of...conversion (if you will) that's been coming on me over the past few months and very recently, I've been getting even stronger messages in the right direction.

How will you participate in Lent?


  1. yes, we don't celebrate the Divine Liturgy during the week in lent- but you might go to a Presanctified Liturgy (sort of a 'communion service')- it can be longer than the 'normal' Mass! ;)

    1. That's true. I have yet to attend a Presanctified Liturgy...maybe this year?

  2. i'm lutheran and we're not required to do any fasting for lent. (jon's internship supervisor joked that during lent, "catholics fast while lutherans eat" because there's always a soup supper before midweek worship.) we have midweek lenten services but it's usually just evening prayer with a sermon.

    personally, i don't do meat on fridays (also no food between 12-3 on good friday) and i haven't decided what else i'll do. again, it's my decision and i choose to do those things because i invariably get reminded of Jesus when i do them.

    1. LOL at the eating comment!! :) I like the idea of a midweek service. I really miss having some sort of community with church. We don't have one....

      I think you hit the nail on the head: it's not really what you do, it's what makes you think of Jesus when you do it.

  3. I just saw on your side bar that you weren't always Byzantine - I'm looking forward to reading your story! I don't know a lot about the Byz. Catholic Church though I do love that within Catholicism we can have such distinct differences.


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