Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Holy Ascetic Fathers


Today, the Saturday before Great Lent, in the Byzantine Rite is the Commemoration of the Holy Ascetic Fathers: ancient monks and nuns. I enjoyed reading this morning's canon in my Uniontown office books (it takes a small library to do even an abridged office in this rite; I jump around in the books). Many saints' names, a few I'd heard of and many I have not. Nice this year as the Western Catholic and Orthodox Easters match (so the world's Byzantines are in sync); the different calendars are a cultural thing nothing to do with theology. Most people don't know that the Catholic Church usually has two Easters and always has two Christmases.
The holy ascetics are virtuous men and women who contended against the devil and their own passions. By examining their lives and their struggles against the Enemy, we take courage from the victory they have achieved, and are inspired to imitate their God-pleasing conduct. They also teach us that fasting is not merely abstinence from food, but involves refraining from inappropriate speech and unseemly actions.
My contribution to Byzantine Christianity in America: the Vestal church-calendar people used to label this day "Holy Hasidic Fathers" until I pointed it out one year. Oy vey!

Chaplets, prayer beads, are really an esoteric monastic practice in Orthodoxy (the beads are part of the monk's and nun's habit, worn on the left wrist), not a popular devotion like Western Catholics' rosary, a favorite of mine for "redeeming the time" but I'm a Mass-and-office Catholic.

Tomorrow: monthly Divine Liturgy with the Ukrainian Catholics.

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