I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.
Within this developed pattern of Great Lent, what precisely do the rules of fasting demand? Neither in ancient nor in modern times has there ever been exact uniformity, but most Orthodox authorities agree on the following rules:
(1) During the week between the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and that of the Prodigal Son, there is general dispensation from all fasting. Meat and animal products may be eaten even on Wednesday and Friday.
By Father Seraphim (Rose) of Platina
In answer to numerous requests from readers, the rule of fasting is given for each day of the year. Where no indication of fast is given, and during "fast-free weeks," all foods may be eaten (except during Cheese-fare Week, when meat alone is forbidden every day). Where "fast day" is indicated alone, the fast is a strict one, with no meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, wine or oil to be eaten. Where, underneath "fast day," is indicated "wine and oil allowed," the fast is relaxed for the sake of a feast day or vigil, to allow eating of these foods. Where "fish, wine and oil allowed" is indicated, then all three of these foods may be eaten.
True fasting is putting away evil deeds. (St. Basil the Great)
The meaning of fasting consists not simply in refusing meat and dairy products, but most importantly in profound self-knowledge, repentance, and the struggle with the passions. “Let us tear every unrighteous union,” the Church hymns call to us on these days. “If we refrain from meat but devour our neighbors, this is a mockery of the fast,” says patristic wisdom. The true meaning of the fast is clearly revealed in one of the stichera: “Let us abandon bodily passions, and grow the gifts of the soul…” “The Springtime of repentance” is what people in the Church call the time of Great Lent.
First one must conquer love, and only then spread the word – Archbishop Nicholas (Kasatkin).
The first person to preach the Gospel in Japan was a Spaniard, Francis Xavier, a Catholic monk of the Jesuit order. The first missionary labors of the Catholic monk and his fellow Jesuit strugglers were crowned with success, and many people accepted Christianity, including the Japanese princes Onugo, Arima and Omura (in the year 1582). However, as the Jesuits focused more on the external, ritualistic aspects of the Faith, on violence and threats, and didnt focus on the spirit of love and humility in their apostolic preaching, they were not able to strengthen the Japanese Christians in the Catholic faith, so that many of them, deep down, remained pagans. Unfortunately, the Jesuit missionary movement was accompanied by politics and intrigue, that is, by a clear and ardent desire to make Japan submit to the Vatican. This caused a negative influence in the hearts of the Japanese, and also led to the harsh persecution of those newly-converted men and women, who had sincerely accepted Catholicism, a fact which is witnessed by a Christian historian in Japan:
What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls!
However, brethren, we are called not only to think about this blessedness, but also to taste it in reality, for all are called to have and carry the Lord in themselves, and to disappear in Him with all the powers of their spirit. When we have reached that state, then our blessedness will be no lower than that of those who participated in the Meeting of the Lord. They were blessed who saw it; we shall be blessed who have not seen, but believed. Pay attention. I will show you briefly how to achieve this. Here is what you should do.