By the grace of God, we are once again entering into the 50 days lent popularly known as ‘Great Lent’ -the biggest of the 5 canonical Lents of the holy Church- which leads us to commemorate the climax episode of Christ’s incarnation and to be the contemporary of those events happened in the past. “Lent is not a collection of prohibitions but it is an option for what is positive”. Fasting is one of the traditions Christians have inherited from Judaism. It was common enough at the time of Jesus for him to warn us: “When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward” (Matt 6:16).
There are many ways to keep a good Lent. During Lent time, a faithful believer of Christ is supposed to abstain from some particular food or pleasure, especially avoiding non-vegetarian and sex. This is what exactly St. Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:5 “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control”. Of course, the first thing God wanted from human was to abstain from a certain food (Genesis 2:16-17). Lent involves an element of sacrifice as the observant forsakes something that he/she likes most. It is the best remedy to get rid of the lust in oneself which deviates one from the divinity. Lent is, further, an opportunity for oneself to abstain from bad habits like smoking, drinking, etc.
Some people doubt whether diet regimen during Lent in our church is biblical or not. Abstaining from the king’s rich food, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah ate vegetables (lentels) and drank water. (Daniel 1:8-12). See what Daniel says, “ In those days, I Daniel, was mourning for three weeks, I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks”.(Daniel 10:2-3). It is said in Joel 1:14; 2:12 that we have to lament and mourn for sanctifying fast. The fasting period is called the lamenting period. Daniel did not eat any delicacies, meat or wine during fasting period. According to one’s strength, power and call everyone adjusts the dietary arrangements and the duration of the fasting. We see that St. John the Baptist, the greatest of all born of women abstained from eating fish or meat. The children like Hananiah and the rest ate only lentels, and drank water. Daniel rejected the delicacies and wine. The Church takes note that the Hebrew youths were blessed by God through holy fasting. It was fasting that delivered the children from the furnace and Daniel the prophet from the jaws of the lions.
Simple food in small quantity helps creating in oneself awareness that gluttony is a sin. A scoop of simple food would help one to inculcate an idea that our prayers should be need based and not greed based. Through lent one gets to know of the depths of pain of starving people. Lent inspires one to identify oneself with the poor and to the necessity of being austere throughout one’s life. One who observes lent in all sincerity and seriousness comes to the understanding that it is a sin of being rich in a poor world.
The Church’s commandment is that one should not eat anything until evening or 3 p.m. If one is not capable of doing it, fast till mid-day. If possible, one should avoid tasty and rich food like egg, milk, fish, meat, oil, wine, etc. And purify himself/her self through prayer, meditation on Bible and prostration. One is bound by moral obligations, such as giving alms and helping the needy etc, during fasting period. It is compulsory that one should participate in the Holy Communion after the true confession.
As our lives become ever busier, there is the danger that the voice of the Lord gets drowned out. Even in Jesus’ own time, it was easy to become distracted by the cares and duties of everyday life as the
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