Elder Patapios Kavsokalyvitis, Superintendent of the Skete of the Holy Trinity, Mount Athos


By fasting, we learn to say ‘No’ to our desire for food and also learn to say ‘No’ to our  often self-destructive will. We also learn to say ‘Yes’ to God, which is always redemptive.

We’ve begun the Triodio, this blessed period of the liturgical year, with repentance, because we’ve felt deeply, existentially, within us the need to return from our expatriation. Like the Prodigal Son in the parable, we’ve felt the need to return to God, the source of life (Sunday of the Prodigal).

We’ve continued our journey towards the risen Christ through our encounter with other people, with the ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters (Cheese-fare Sunday).

Thereafter we’re called upon, in essence, to deny our self, through the forty-day fast from food and the passions. By learning to say ‘No’ to our desire for food, we learn to say ‘No’ to our own will, which is often self-destructive, and to say ‘Yes’ to the will of God, which always saves us.

Over the course of the centuries, the Church has shown itself to be a real treasury of God’s wisdom and the experience of generation after generation of the God-bearing Fathers. When it accentuates the fast, it doesn’t do so out of contempt for the body, as is sometimes glibly claimed, but because it regards the body as a gift and possession of God; a ‘member of Christ’, and ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’, as Saint Paul puts it. Christians don’t hate their flesh, they don’t abstain from food out of disdain, but they don’t allow anything to have power over them. The balanced use of food or the abstinence from it for a time keeps the psychosomatic equilibrium of the body and is a way of glorifying God in our ‘body and spirit’, as Saint Paul says.

From this perspective, Lent is an empirical journey into the depths of our being. It’s a journey in search of meaning, of our discovery of God’s meaning in our life, of its hidden depths. And, to use an example, by abstaining from food, that is by fasting, we rediscover the sweetness of life and relearn the lesson that we should receive it from God with joy and gratitude. By restricting relaxations, entertainments, music, endless conversations and trivial social interactions, we finally discover the value of genuine inter-personal relationships. And we rediscover all this precisely because  we rediscover God himself, because we return to him and, through him, to everything he’s given us out of his perfect love and mercy.

May you have a good Great Lent!

Source: pemptousia.com


Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.


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