The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Fasting has a place in the Anglican Use, but the fact is that despite Anglican admiration for Eastern Christian liturgy, it has never, on a wide scale, adopted fasting as a regular practice. The Book of Divine Worship includes this in the exhortation before the Litany of Penitence on Ash Wednesday:
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.
Except in that exhortation, fasting is nowhere else mentioned in the BDW. The BDW does have collects for Ember Days, but the purpose of those days is highlighted as "for the Ministry", which was certainly an aspect of the Embertides, but not the whole of their meaning.

It was noted as early as the first years of the 17th century by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes that many had forsaken fasting as being too likely to make men hypocritical (or just too darn like Papists). He fairly eviscerates that idea in one of his sermons for Lent delivered before King James.

Now, the new calendar for the Ordinariates restores the Ember Days, the four three-day periods at the four seasons that are set aside for fasting and prayer. All of us who follow the Anglican Use should make use of these days as times for greater devotion.

Here are some thoughts on fasting and its importance in the Christian life. Recall that Jesus said, in the sermon on the Mount,
And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Jesus says "when you fast", not "if you fast."

The point of Lenten fasting is not to detox the body
by Fr. Michael Shields

In Russia I have found that one of the greatest strengths, joys, freedoms, helps and revelations in my spiritual life comes through the gift of fasting and prayer. The Scriptures tell about the great benefits from these practices: spiritual protection, deeper faith, healed relationships, overcoming injustice, repentance, growth in virtue, willingness to service others and humility. The purpose of the Christian fast is not to lose weight or detox the body as advertised in the contemporary rebirth of fasting. Rather, fasting is a way to deal with the evil in us, others and our world. It draws us deeper into real intimacy with God.

All spiritual disciplines — prayer, almsgiving and fasting — are for one purpose: to communicate our total dependency on God in every area of life. We pray not to change God but us. We give our money away to affirm that God is our true treasure. We fast, freely and generously, to affirm that our true appetite is for God and him alone. All other appetites — sexual, eating, drinking — point to our heart’s desire for God. How did I discover this? Life here in Russia taught me that I needed greater faith and deeper prayer to combat the injustices and evil around me. In desperation and in weakness I had no other choice than to rely on God. As I came to understand that prayer and fasting are not seasonal exercises but ways of life that empower, I began a new depth in my life with Christ. My first fast was from deep dismay. One young man from the parish in the 1990s was sent to eight years of prison for a crime he committed. I knew Russian prisons were hellholes. To just live through eight years would be a miracle for him. But I feared more for his person. Would he come out hardened, broken and destroyed? What could I do? I resolved to pray and fast for him for the eight years of his imprisonment. I gave up any meat in my diet. I knew he would get little so I bound myself to him and prayed he would be a human being upon his release. He made it through his sentence and is now a father of two, a lovely husband and a hard worker. Prayer and fasting do work to fight injustice and heal hearts...
Read the whole post at the web site of the Catholic Anchor.

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