28 February 2006

Paczki Day

I find myself falling into this trap every year, and this year is no different. The trap? Time to party before the fast.

But that's backwards, isn't it! You fast to feast. You don't feast to fast.

Yet the corrupted nature loves to try to cram in as many "forbiddens" (and even take in as many sins) knowing that tomorrow you will worthily lament the sins and acknowledge the wretchedness.

Yet isn't this completely contrary to the spirit of the fast? For the Lenten fast exists not so that we can be bad before we are good. Rather, it is given so that we might learn, each day of the year, to discipline our bodies and reign in our passions and control our selves. In other words, we fast not to shape up for 40 days, but to remind ourselves how we really ought to live for 365.

This doesn't mean you can't eat a paczki. It does mean that restraint is the order of the day--even today.


Jeremy said...

Is there a traditional Lutheran Lenten fast? I've looked at the EO rules a couple of times and they seem quite complex and perhaps more suited to a Mediterranean diet (of course, I could be looking in the wrong places). I suppose I'm just asking if you have a recommended rule. Thanks.

fr john w fenton said...


Thanks for your question.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Confessions decry what they call the "distinction of foods" because "we cannot merit grace or make satisfaction for sins through the observance of human tradition." (AC XXVI.21) At the same time, the same Confessions enjoin true fasting calling it a good fruit of repentance and a command of God that cannot be omitted without sin. (Ap XII.139, 143)

Based on Chemnitz's Examination, "true fasting" means going without food rather than simply abstaining from certain foods (or the foods that we self-determine to 'give up'). This "true fasting" is done to "mortify the flesh" (i.e., discipline the passions).

In this regard, the Lutheran Lenten fast is more like the traditional Western fast which focuses on quantity rather than quality. In brief, one meal a day (with no snacking) seems to be the rule. I say "seems to be" because I have yet to run across evidence of "Lutheran Fasting Rules."

For my parish, I've devised some rules, based on the traditional Western fast. These may be found at:


Chris Jones said...


I could be looking in the wrong places

You are indeed looking in the wrong places. The only place to get an authentically Orthodox discipline of fasting is from an Orthodox father confessor. One is forbidden to devise a rule of fasting for oneself, even (especially!) by reading it from "the rules" in the Typikon.

I believe that to be a good rule for us Lutherans, as well. If you want to follow a Lenten discipline, ask your pastor or your father confessor for advice. And then follow it.

Anonymous said...

Ack!!! Where did you get a picture of me eating breakfast this morning! ;) Unfortunately, guilty as charged. Thank you for your wise instruction.