Parish Resources: Fasting and Spiritual Practices

"Transfigurating Practices," by Aristotle Papanikolaou

  • Transfigurating Practices

    On the day of our Lord’s Transfiguration, whose feast day is celebrated on August 6th, Jesus took with him three disciples, Peter, John and James (Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36).  They are at the ‘high’ mountain, which is often a place of revelation in the Bible, and at this mountain Jesus is transfigured. St. Matthew tells us, “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” St. Luke narrates that the “appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” St. Mark says, “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”

    The story, in short, teaches us about what the Church has affirmed for centuries:  the divinity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the God-man, truly God and truly human.  As Rowans Williams so eloquently puts it, “Jesus’ human life is shot through with God’s life, he is carried on the tide of God’s eternal life, and borne towards us on that tide, bringing with him all the fullness of the creator” (The Dwelling of the Light, 6).

    The other thing that we learn from the story of Jesus’s transfiguration concerns us, our humanity. The story of the Transfiguration teaches us what we are called to be, the reason for our creation. Continue Reading…

"The True Meaning of Fasting in the Orthodox Church," by Philip Kariatlis

  • The True Meaning of Fasting in the Orthodox Church

    When we think of fasting in the Orthodox Church today, our mind almost immediately goes to certain rules relating to what we can and cannot eat. Moreover, this practice is especially associated with Great and Holy Lent. And so, when it comes to this “forty-day” fast, there are some who will almost exclusively focus all their attention on familiarizing themselves with all of the Church’s prescriptions regarding when they need to abstain from particular foods. Then, there are some who might go to great lengths, meticulously checking all ingredients of certain food items in supermarkets for example, in order to ensure that there are no traces of foods which they know are not permitted during fasting periods, also rejoicing with delight when they happen to find substitutes to their favorite food. What necessarily results from such an understanding of fasting, amongst its practitioners, is a belief that if they have been “successful” in this effort, they are then prepared to receive the risen Lord on Easter night.

    A question which justifiably arises, however, is whether this in fact is what fasting is all about.

    If Great Lent is a preparatory time within the Church’s liturgical year meant as a means for preparing the faithful to encounter the risen Christ on the day of Easter, how does such an understanding of fasting assist in this “spiritual” journey? Is this the true meaning of fasting? Or, have we reduced it merely to rules about what foods are permitted and what are not?


"#MeToo: The Why Behind the Wisdom of Taming the Passions," by Fr. Barnabas Powell

  • #MeToo: The Why Behind the Wisdom of Taming the Passions

    I was just barely a teenager and the product of a broken home with a father who had left us a few years before. He simply couldn’t shoulder the responsibilities of being a dad to me and my little brother and so my mom had to pick up the slack.

    During my teenage years, we lived with my stepfather in Central Florida, and I would go to a local Pentecostal church with our neighbors. The assistant pastor of this mega-church was very involved with the youth ministry, especially the boys. He was a pedophile.

    At 13 or 14 years of age, I found myself being groomed to be molested by this man. He had already attempted some inappropriate touching and had even taken me to his secret apartment in town away from his wife and three sons to get me “use” to the place. What I didn’t know till later was that this pastor would be dismissed from this church because he had been caught molesting other boys in the community. Had it not been for my stepfather and a man who worked at the airport ticket counter and attended the church where this pastor worked, I would have been put on a plane to go visit this man and his family in their new home in Tennessee and most likely would have been molested there.

    Now in my late 50’s as I look at the recent revelations of sexual misconduct being reported in the news I’m struck by the amount of surprise. Continue Reading…


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Public Orthodoxy is a publication of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University