Lent is the oldest and most important of all Christian posts. This is the time of preparation for one of the most important Orthodox holidays - the radiant Christ Resurrection.
The spiritual meaning of fasting
Prayer and fasting are two wings that lift a person to new heights.
Excessiveness in food and its composition affect the human soul. Fasting is the time when a Christian frees his body and soul from various earthly needs enslaving his spirit. The meaning of Lent is repentance, which requires restrictions in habits and lifestyle. It is not enough to simply diet, since any truly Orthodox fasting is not so much physical as spiritual abstinence.
Church fasting, and especially Great, is the training of the will, but the diet can be chosen at random. The main principle is the conscious rejection of any food of animal origin. Animal proteins are replaced by vegetable - from mushrooms and legumes, nuts, eggplant. Details and the construction of the diet is very individual and depends on:
- the personal zeal of a person;
- his piety;
- material capabilities;
- degrees of churchhood;
- health condition.
Great Lent is a miniature human life. He gives a person a unique opportunity, cleansing the soul, eradicating vices and doing good things, change yourself, ask for forgiveness before meeting a bright holiday, and before the final result of all mortal life will be summed up.
What are the restrictions
A person must mentally prepare for the post, internally tune in like a musical instrument. Before starting fasting, you should slightly adjust the diet, gradually bringing it closer to the lean. The church charter, which not everyone knows by heart, prescribes in detail the diet of each day of Great Lent. There are days when dry blood is laid, days when boiled food is allowed, with vegetable oil and without it. Particularly strict post in the first and last week. For those who fast under the full charter, the most strict fast (without consuming sunflower oil and cooked food) is on Wednesday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, food restrictions are not so strict. On big holidays - Palm Sunday and the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos - fish can be included in the diet. On Good Friday, for example, one cannot eat at all until the shroud is taken out. But it is not so much the composition of food that is important, as the moderation of the consumption of even lean food, and here the principle “eat not full”. Observing the post, you should follow a number of simple rules:
- is 4-5 times a day in small portions;
- chew food thoroughly;
- drink enough fluids;
- By all means include vegetable oils in the diet, at least in small quantities.
The true meaning of fasting is not to lose weight or heal. Fasting is not a diet, but lean food is not the most rational diet. Restriction in food is not an end in itself. The dietary component is not the basis of fasting. On the contrary, the basis of fasting is its spiritual part. Fasting is a time for thinking about your life, from which food should not be distracted.
During the whole post is not recommended:
- to smoke and consume alcoholic beverages, except for wine on permitted days and in permissible volumes;
- it is desirable to limit social communication and exclude entertainment, watching TV.
It is important not so much to remember that you can not eat, but about what you can not do in the post. The best answer to the question of what is not in Lent is not each other. Fasting time is intended to develop the habits of condescension and forgiveness of one’s neighbors.
The clergy call this period a time of repentance and doing themselves, the time of the washing of all bodily sins and spiritual labor, namely:
- readings of spiritual literature, and first of all the Gospels and the Psalter, to which hands never reach;
- refraining from anger, resentment and irritation, which inevitably provoke food restrictions;
- temple visits, confessions, volunteer work;
- restraint in words and thoughts;
- searching for someone who could become the object of your special care (helping the sick and the poor), assigning yourself, at least for the time of fasting, deeds of love, and not debt;
- marital abstinence.
Family and inner world should be filled with peace and quiet.
Many people believe in the beneficial effects of fasting on the body and soul of a person. Even doctors recommend fasting to certain categories of people. These are people suffering from cardiovascular, renal diseases, chronic pancreatitis, hypertensive patients.
Fasting is not a time of universal grief, but a time of intense work on oneself, physical abstinence and inner peace. The Creator who loves us does not need sacrifices, but the vivacity of our spirit and body. Any observance of fasting, which leads to a weakening of human strength and painful conditions, is inappropriate and unnecessary.
Observe physical fasting is not all. Relaxations in the post are possible:
- for travelers;
- for people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
- for people recovering from serious illnesses;
- strict fasting is undesirable for children under 15 years of age, pregnant and lactating women.
A delicate moment: from fasting, you can retreat out of politeness, not wanting to offend those who treat with skoromnoy food, sincerely not understanding or not knowing that you are fasting.
Post passed: exit rules
With the beginning of fasting and changing the diet, the body has to adapt, adapting to new conditions. Moments of transition children and the elderly suffer harder.
Both the entry and exit from the post should be gradual, then it will become healing for both the soul and the body. You can not pounce on food, from which the body lost the habit of 7 weeks. It must be remembered that moderation is always useful, and not only during the period of fasting, which sharpens spiritual abilities. Trying to remake the whole world, you need to start from yourself, and fasting time provides the broadest possibilities for this. Restrictions on food is an auxiliary tool designed to shake a person, sharpen his mental perception. The most difficult, but also the most important is to observe not the form, but the spirit of the post. Focusing on the features of the diet, people are looking for simple solutions that have not been, are not, and never will be in spiritual work.