Friday, March 25, 2016

A Lost Opportunity to Celebrate

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, which is the commemoration of when Archangel Gabriel told the Panagia (All Holly Mother of God) that she was going to bear a son, and He would save the world. The Greek word of the Feast is Ευαγγελισμός which translates to “Good News” from which ultimately we receive the word Gospel. The Feast is always during Great Lent and is celebrated by easing the fast, and fish is allowed.

For many American Orthodox Christians for whom the Great Lent fast is limited only to meat, today’s sense of celebration is lost. “Why do we eat fish? I thought we were supposed to be celebrating?” are the two common questions I hear. It wasn’t until recently (past twenty years or so) Greek Orthodox parishes in America stopped hosting steak dinners for Greek Independence Day, also celebrated today. Many still can be heard complaining the Church is forcing them to fast when they should be celebrating.

This is one prime example of how the understanding and appreciation of the Orthodox Christian Faith can be lost if the Faith is not being fully practiced. For those attempting the strict fast during Great Lent, the offering of fish today is a delight to the stomach and tongue. It becomes a genuine celebration. When we embrace the idea of feasts AND fasts on the Church calendar, then we appreciate both. You cannot feast unless you fast, just as you can’t have joy without sorrow. Today is a feast, so express with joy and celebrate with a fish sandwich at the very least. The fast will continue again tomorrow, though as with last weekend, oil will be allowed. Until then....enjoy the feast.

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