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Fasting in Malankara Orthodox Church Speech
Good morning/afternoon/evening my brothers and sisters of the church. My name is [insert name here]. Today I will be sharing with you the power, importance, and significance of fasting, abstinence, and lent. I hope that through my words you will understand and internalize this so that we all may become better Christian men and Christian women.
Before I continue, let us all understand what is meant by fasting and abstinence. Fasting is the abstinence of food for a period of time. Although some in our society may view this as a time of deprivation, it is not. Even though during the fast we do not receive food for the flesh, we receive food for the soul through our almighty.
Fasting has a long tradition in the church and has been practiced by Christians for a very long time. First there was the fast before the nativity of our lord. This is the oldest of the fasting traditions and is one deeply rooted in the Syrian tradition. This fast lasted forty days in the past, but now the fast last twenty five days, starting from the beginning of December until Christmas day. Also we must remember the Fast of the Ninevites, this fast lasts for three days beginning on the Monday, the third week before the beginning of the Great lent. It is also known as the fast of Jonah, as Jonah fasted in the belly of the great fish!
Next we must remember the great fast, which is observed to so that we can all actively participate in the Resurrection of Christ. We must not also forget the Apostle’ fast, which like the fast of the nativity of our lord, lasts 40 days. There is also the fast before the migration of Virgin Mary the Mother of God, the fast of Wednesdays and Fridays, and the fast before the Nativity of St. Mary. One fast which is unique to the Malankara church is the fast before the feast of the Pentecost, it is a time of the faithful for the empowering of the holy sport on the day of the Pentecost.
Brothers and sisters, this was not meant to be history lesson about the chronological events that have created the fasts that we observe today. It is meant to show us that Christians have fasted in the past, this practice is steeped in tradition and bears fruit for the soul.
In our materialistic world today, we are consumed by so much. We are have instant access to information and gluttony. We are constantly bombarded with the notion that in order to be happy, we must consume. Either food or drink or material possession. That is what the media tells us. But we can eat all we want. We can drink all we want. We can consume and pursue all the world’s materials and yet there will still be a sense of emptiness within us. This is where the power of fasting becomes apparent. By fasting, we are shedding all material possessions to the point where we do not consume earthly treasures. We then only consume the treasures of our God Almighty. Fasting strengthens our minds. It hardens our bodies. It is a great weapon against the evil one. We only need to look at Christ. Who resisted temptation and defeated Satan through Satan. Through this we see that we have been giving the most powerful of weapons. Christ himself has shown us the way to defeat evil. To overcome evil. Fasting and abstinence at two weapons, weapons of virtue. These weapons help cultivate and sow the seeds for a Christian life. Let us take our fasting voluntarily, so that it may be of divine dispensation. If we fast, of our own free will, and we are humble as Christians while doing so, we become strong as a Church family and join the fight against evil. And my brothers and sisters, remember what Matthew said, the spirit of Great Lent is to “fast not unto men, but unto God, our Father”. Go in peace.
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