Monday, June 19, 2006

prayer and fasting

It's good to be fasting again. I've felt overstuffed and lazy most of the time since Pascha, and especially during this past week without fasting at all. I really need to work on my self-control when it comes to how much I eat. I usually do pretty well following the formal fasts, but when I'm not fasting, I usually disappoint myself.

There's a bit of sadness hidden in this season, though. It feels to me like the Apostles' Fast marks the annual parting of ways between Old and New Calendarists within Orthodoxy. As much as I appreciate the opportunity the two calendars afford me to fit special observances into my schedule, I appreciate much more the season of the movable feasts and fasts, from Pre-Lent to Post-Pentecost, when most of the important occasions are synchronized across Orthodox jurisdictions. We will all start the Apostles' Fast together, but we will end it separately, and for the rest of the year until we prepare for Lent once again, we will go our separate ways. This is what bothers me about the difference--I don't consider the choice of calendars that big a deal; I just don't like the way it divides Orthodox practice. As awkward as it may seem for Orthodox to celebrate Christmas out of sync with Western Christianity, how much more awkward is it that we celebrate it out of sync with one another? I suppose it's not as big a deal when you're definitively part of one parish or another, but it's hard not to let it become a factor in the already difficult choice I will one day have to make, as to where I will convert and where I will attend. In the meantime, while I divide my experience between two or three parishes, I constantly have to choose between my preference for the Old Calendar and the practical realization that I will probably end up in a parish that follows the New Calendar. And in the case of the Fast, I will follow the New Calendar as well because it is easier on my family if we eat separate foods for a week and a half, rather than the longer option.

Saturday, my wife spent the day with a friend who will be leaving the area at the end of the month. I kept the car, so my son and I could attend Vespers. I was glad for the opportunity, which I wasn't anticipating, but it was another difficult choice. The tiny ROCOR parish had a conference last week, and their numbers would be swelled by the participants, making their already crowded facilities much worse than usual. If I'd been by myself, it would have been one thing, but I decided not to navigate it with my son. Instead, we went to the more familiar parish, where the priest was on vacation, for Reader's Vespers. I decided not to pressure my son to face forward, since all the action was in the back of the room. Attendance seemed significantly lower than usual, so it was definitely the less crowded option.

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