Below, please find the latest issue of the second volume of The Spiritual Watch, the official publication of the Metropolis of America, published with the blessings of His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius of America. In The Spiritual Watch, you will find news and information regarding our Holy Metropolis, as well as spiritual writings.
I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much to eat. I shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us only a single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age, illness or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: to avoid over-eating and the filling of our bellies... A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied.
—St. John Cassian, On the Eight Vices.
The feast of the Resurrection, Pascha, is the most important feast of the liturgical year. In order to prepare for this great day, the Church has appointed a time of fasting and preparation, which is called Great Lent. Great Lent begins on Clean Monday (February 26/March 11 this year), and lasts 40 days. After the 40 days, we begin Holy Week with the Feast of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.
There are five Sundays during Lent:
In addition, there are multiple other commemorations that the Church has arranged for our spiritual edification.
If you are new to fasting, or are not sure you have been doing it properly, know that the first step is to find an experienced spiritual father; a priest or monk of our Metropolis, or of one of the monasteries or parishes of our Church in Greece. Fasting is not a discipline that can be self-directed, and should be part of a balanced spiritual life including attendence at the Divine Services, private prayer at home, acts of charity, and the reading of Holy Scripture.
The general rules of Lent are simple; Monday through Friday are strict fast, when we refrain from meat, dairy, fish, olive oil, and wine. Saturday and Sunday we are permitted wine and oil. On Annunciation, we are permitted fish.
If you are elderly, very young, sickly, or new to fasting, your spiritual father may give you a rule of fasting that is less strict than that which is described here. This is because fasting is not a set of rules and regulations, but a spiritual medicine that the spiritual father, as your spiritual doctor, determines will be for your benefit, taking in to account your state in life. We should refrain from judging those who do not fast as strictly as we do, while praying that they will grow in strength to do so.
In addition, there are extra services such as the Presanctified Liturgy and the Salutations that are prayed during the weekdays of Lent, and we should make every effort to attend these.
Fasting will be of no benefit to us, however, if we do not love our neighbors more than ourselves. Fasting is a tool in our arsenal against the Evil One, but it is useless if we bite the head off of our brother.
If you are living far away from a Church and cannot attend the services during Lent, contact our missions department below for advice on how to participate as best as you can. Spiritual growth is open to you even if you live a great distance.
Finally, dear readers, we pray that you will include us in your prayers, those who prepare this site for you, that we will remain firm, crossing the Sea of the Fast, and arriving at Pascha prepared.
The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of America is The Traditionalist Orthodox Church serving the faithful of North and South America following the old (Julian) calendar. Having its roots in the Diocese of Astoria, founded by Metropolitan Petros (Astyfides) in 1954, it presently consists of two Metropolises (America and Toronto) and two dioceses (Etna and Portland, and Boston), shepherded by five hierarchs, under the Presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius of America.
The Church of the GOC of America is an autonomous Eparchy whose Mother Church is The Holy Synod of the Church of the GOC of Greece, under the Presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece. The bishops belonging to the Eparchial Synod are also members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. We resist the heresy of Ecumenism.
In the early 20th century, the idea of promoting the union of Churches (Orthodox and heterodox) began to gain ground among circles in the Eastern Orthodox Church by establishing a "Communion of Churches" modeled on the League of Nations.
The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920 foresaw a series of steps toward the “union of the Churches,” of which the first was the change of the calendar for the simultaneous celebration of feast days by all the “Churches.” The content of the encyclical was kept secret from the faithful and only after a few years became known. Read more...
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...
Q. Are the prayers in the blue prayer book [A Prayerbook for Orthodox Christians by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery —ed.] compulsory for everyone? I mean their morning prayers and the service of Small Compline. My confessor gave me a special rule but wasn’t clear about whether this replaced the book prayers or was in addition to them. Read more...