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  #1  
Old Feb 22, '08, 2:32 pm
Jofantioch Jofantioch is offline
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Religion: Orthodox
Question Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

The practices in the Eastern and Western churches are very different when it comes to Great Lent. I'd like to know why and when?

Here are some more specific questions.

In the East we fast every Wednesday and Friday (except the week after Pascha) to commemorate the betrayal and cruxifiction of our Lord. We abstain from meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, olive oil, and alcohol.

For Great Lent, the Eastern church does this fast fro 40 days with some lightening on Sundays in memory of the Resurrection and on March 25 for the feast of the Annunciation.

This is not the case in the West. Why is this?
Is it true that Westerners can choose what they abstain from for the 40 days? When did this happen?

Please answer.
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  #2  
Old Feb 22, '08, 2:46 pm
7rosario 7rosario is offline
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Posts: 206
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

Some notable passages taken from the 'History of Lent' From the book, "The Liturgical Year" by Gueranger

From: http://books.google.com/books?id=u_U...EZnmiQGMi6WnCg

During the two thousand and more years, which
preceded the Deluge, men had no other food than the
fruits of the earth, and these were only got by the
toil of hard labour. But when God, as we have
already observed, mercifully shortened man's life, (
that so he might have less time and power for sin,) —
he permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as
an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated
strength. It was then, also, that Noah, guided
by a divine inspiration, extracted the juice of the
grape, which thus formed a second stay for human
debility.
Fasting, then, is the abstaining from such nourishments
as these, which were permitted for the support
of bodily strength. And firstly, it consisted
in abstinence from flesh-meat, because it is a food
that was given to man by God, out of condescension
to his weakness, and not as one absolutely essential
for the maintenance of life. Its privation, greater
or less according to the regulations of the Church, is
essential to the very notion of Fasting.
Thus, whilst
in many countries, the use of eggs, milk-meats, and
even of dripping and lard, is tolerated,—the abstaining
from flesh-meat is everywhere maintained, as
being essential to Fasting. For many centuries,
eggs and milk-meats were not allowed, because they
come under the class of animal food : even to this
day, they are forbidden in the Eastern Churches,
and are only allowed in the Latin Church by virtue
of an annual dispensation. The precept of abstaining
from flesh-meat is so essential to Lent, that even on
Sundays, when the Fasting is interrupted, Abstinence
is an obligation, binding even on those who are
dispensed from the fasts of the week, unless theie
be a special dispensation granted for eating meat on
the Sundays.
...For several centuries,
abstinence from flesh-meat included likewise the
prohibition of every article of food that belonged to
what is called the animal kingdom, with the single
exception of Fish, which, on account of its cold nature,
as also for several mystical reasons, founded on the
Sacred Scriptures, was always permitted to be taken
by those who fasted. Every sort of milk-meat was
forbidden ; and, in Rome, even to this day, butter and
cheese are not permitted during Lent, except on those
days whereon permission to eat meat is granted.

...But this grant for the eating milk-meats during
Lent, did not include eggs. Here, the ancient discipline
was maintained, at least this far,—that eggs
were not allowed, save by a dispensation, which had
to be renewed each year. In Rome, they are only
allowed on days when Flesh-meat may be taken.
...Pope Benedict the Fourteenth,
alarmed at the excessive facility wherewith
dispensations were then obtained, renewed, by a
solemn Constitution, (dated June 10, 1745,) the prohibition
of eating fish and meat, at the same meal, on
fasting days.

All amusements and theatrical performances were not allowed in Lent:
http://books.google.com/books?id=u_U...FojAiwHZyeWwCg

...Hunting, too, was for many ages considered as
forbidden during Lent;—the spirit of the holy season
was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport.
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  #3  
Old Feb 22, '08, 5:22 pm
Alexios Alexios is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

As some have noted, the West GENERALLY focuses more on AMOUNT of food (fasting) over WHAT not to eat (abstaining), while the East GENERALLY focuses more on WHAT not to eat (abstaining) over AMOUNT of food (fasting), though both encourage both. That's just very, very general, and there are plenty of exceptions.

Also, the fasting and abstention rules of the West are generally the "bare minimum" expected while the fasting and abstention rules in the East are generally the maximum expected. Many (most?) Easterners do not participate in the full fasts and follow their spiritual father's guidance in these matters, and many Westerners fast and abstain more than the minimum requires.
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  #4  
Old Feb 23, '08, 6:59 am
7rosario 7rosario is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

Does Eastern Catholics not eat/drink until sunset in fasting days, just as the ancient Roman Catholics did?
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  #5  
Old Feb 23, '08, 7:10 am
Diak Diak is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

Yes, sometimes even today those Eastern Catholics and Orthodox following the stricter fast on days of the Presanctified Divine Liturgy actually break the fast with the Eucharist in the evening, taking only water during the day.

This is generally not practiced in the West anymore, even amongst Latin Mass communities. When I was teaching at a Society of St. Pius X school in the 80s there was never any mention from the clergy of an entire day-long fast before an evening Tridentine Mass.
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  #6  
Old Feb 23, '08, 10:39 am
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

**Does Eastern Catholics not eat/drink until sunset in fasting days, just as the ancient Roman Catholics did?**

This is frequently mitigated in practice these days.

I don't think the exact details of fasting were ever the same in all places everywhere.
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  #7  
Old Feb 23, '08, 10:41 am
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

**Yes, sometimes even today those Eastern Catholics and Orthodox following the stricter fast on days of the Presanctified Divine Liturgy actually break the fast with the Eucharist in the evening, taking only water during the day.**

Most Orthodox jurisdictions in this country allow a light breakfast, but nothing consumed after noon when the Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated in the evening.

Those jurisdictions that allow evening Divine Liturgies follow a similar discipline.
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  #8  
Old Feb 23, '08, 2:23 pm
Aramis Aramis is offline
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Religion: Byzantine Catholic - Ruthenian Church
Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

Not all EC's maintain strictness. Ruthenian particular law is one hour before the liturgy. It is often recommended to fast from the noon meal, but one hour is the required
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  #9  
Old Feb 23, '08, 4:14 pm
Jofantioch Jofantioch is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

My question was one of history. When did the Western Church change or has it ever changed the guidelines?

I agree, the vast majority of Orthodox do not keep the full fast. As a result they do nothing in the way of Lenten fasting.
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  #10  
Old Feb 23, '08, 7:56 pm
7rosario 7rosario is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jofantioch View Post
My question was one of history. When did the Western Church change or has it ever changed the guidelines?

I agree, the vast majority of Orthodox do not keep the full fast. As a result they do nothing in the way of Lenten fasting.

Click on the link of my first reply, it shows when the changes were made.
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  #11  
Old Feb 23, '08, 10:17 pm
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: Eastern vs Western Lenten Fasting History

**I agree, the vast majority of Orthodox do not keep the full fast. As a result they do nothing in the way of Lenten fasting.**

There are degrees of observance among the Orthodox, just as there are degrees of observance among Roman Catholics.
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