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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Monday, November 12 2001  

Anticipation

Continuing the preparations-for-Christmas theme set here last week, and how a fast may enhance a feast.... Carly Simon's 1970's song, Anticipation, could be the theme of this thread of entries (you may remember it better as the theme of Heinz Ketchup commercials for some years, better than hearing it on pop music radio). Anticipation...sweet waiting.

Though fasting reenforces prayer by helping us focus in our hearts and souls rather than our flesh, it also parallels the athletic training that is always given a boost by the reminder, "no pain, no gain." If your muscles aren't stretching and then aching, they're not gaining any strength, and you're not really training. Likewise, if your preparation for a feast doesn't make your stomach growl and cue you to pray by reminding you that you're not overeating for a change, your preparation is not very well focused.

I mentioned last week that I don't follow the dietary fasts of Orthodoxy, which I'll comment on more later. But I used to. During my first Lent after becoming Orthodox, I was encouraged to not overdo the fast. So I did just about everything recommended (no meat, no dairy products, no eggs or other foods in which these were major ingredients) for the 40-day Lent plus Holy Week. But my coffee drinking proved to be my weak point. I was so used to my routine that the first couple of times I had coffee after the beginning of Lent, I didn't realize I'd put half and half into it until it was too late. Oh well, I was told not to overdo it. So without relaxing any of those other abstentions, I didn't go out of my way to get a nondairy substitute for my coffee. No good would be served by being legalistic about it, I thought.

Pascha (Easter) came, and after the midnight-to-daybreak service that marks the feast of feasts, we came out of the nave to break the fast. Bacon, sausages, all kinds of eggs, quiches, ham, and everything we hadn't had for forty days and a week...including coffee with real cream, were quickly spread on the parish tables. As I reached for my first cup and the creamer, I felt...not guilt...but sorrow. By not depriving myself of cream for those weeks, I had deprived myself of a feast-day joy at this most special moment. "No fast, no feast," ran through my mind, and it remained the theme of all my fasts in the years following.

Now...are we anticipating Christmas on December 25, the end of advent, or are we alrady celebrating it a little here and a little there, hoping to stretch it out? And if that's what we do, are we instead actually spreading the real Christmas experience thin, depriving it of its real power?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

More cards for when you don't care enough...

"Congratulations on your wedding day! Too bad no one likes your wife."

"How could two people as beautiful as you have such an ugly baby?"

"Someday I hope to get married, but not to you." "

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Common sense and faith

Common sense and faith are as different from each other as the natural life is from the spiritual, and as impulsiveness is from inspiration. Nothing that Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, but is revelation sense, and is complete, whereas common sense falls short.

Oswald Chambers
Sent by Judy Martin

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