Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ongoing Effort of Fasting, Confession and Holy Communion

Many people only take Holy Communion four times a year or even less. In these cases there is generally a week long period of severe fasting suggested followed by Sacrament of Confession and then Holy Communion. Many people do this during one of the fasting periods such as Great Lent. Such people do not necessarily follow the complete fast. In the Slavonic tradition this intense short week long practice is termed govenie. There is no corresponding word in English; govenie means a period of self-examination, prayer and fasting, which ends with confession and communion. A person who starts govenie is expected to spend his week's preparation as in retreat, though he usually remains at home. He attends all the daily services; he fasts rigorously, reads books of spiritual edification, gives alms, and seeks reconciliation with those with whom he has quarreled.

This practice is not sufficient according to Saint Theophan (It also is not in agreement with the Canons of the Church). We must make fasting and repentance a continual part of our life, he says.

Here is how he instructs us on this approach:
   1. Observe all the great fasts.
   2. Observe the fasts on Wednesday and Friday.
   3. Besides this, voluntary fasting on other particular days, especially Monday as is customary.

   1. Every sin that burdens the conscience should be quickly cleansed by repentance without waiting for any particular time of preparation.
   2. Every day before you go to sleep, make a private confession to the Lord of everything in which you have sinned.
   3. Make a confession minute by minute, that is every impure and blameworthy thought, desire, feeling and movement confess as soon as you realize it to the all-seeing God with contrition of spirit; and ask forgiveness for it and the strength to avoid it in the future.
   4. Reveal every perplexity, confusion or new understanding to another of like mind with you or to your spiritual father, so that he would decide and discern its worth and pronounce a judgment. Curtail the habit of deciding everything for yourself.

   1. Go as often as possible to Liturgy, and as it is celebrated stand in firm and bright faith in the sacrifice that is being made to God. All should participate. Receive it with reverence, joy, and triumph if it is granted.
   2. If it is impossible to go to church, then do not let the hour of the Holy and Divine sacrifice pass without sighing and turning to God. If possible stand in prayer and make a few prostrations.

We know this latter approach to be consistent with the canons of the Church. They require participation in the fasts and regular participation in Holy Communion (of course by being continually prepared as Saint Theophan suggests above).

I know of no other way to grow spiritually.  This involves a surrender to the teachings, and obedience to Traditions of the Church. If you desire to grow closer to God, make it a Way of Life.

Path to Salvation pp 269 - 279

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