Skip to comments.Preparing for Lent: Ash Wednesday – Why no Collect on Fasting?
Posted on 02/06/2007 6:46:21 PM PST by sionnsar
People ask me: Why does The Book of Common Prayer (1662) delay the required Prayer (Collect) on Fasting during Lent to the First Sunday in Lent when it should, by rights, be prayed on the First Day of Lent?
The Collect for the first Sunday is interestingly one of the very few such prayers addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than to his Father in heaven; and it does concern the discipline of abstinence and fasting. It was written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549 and begins,
O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory ..The required Prayer (Collect) appointed for Ash Wednesday addresses the Father:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.And this Collect contains no reference to fasting at all.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost not impute the sins of men by reason of their penitence; who also dost succour those who labour in necessity; Vouchsafe to bless [+] and sanctify [+] these ashes, which thou has appointed us to bear upon our heads after the manner of the Ninevites, in token of humiliation and holy devotion, and in order to the washing away of our offences; and, by this invocation of thy holy name, grant that all those that shall bear them upon their heads, to implore thereby thy mercy, may obtain from thee both the pardon of all their offences, and also grace so to begin today their holy fasts, that on the day of Resurrection, they may be counted worthy to approach to the holy Paschal feast, and hereafter to receive everlasting glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.A final word is in order. Lent, of course, is not about historical research but is about devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. May our abstinence and fasting in Lent be adorned in Gospel righteousness.
"The answer to the question of why no reference to fasting is that back in the fifth and six centuries when the Christian Year, with its Collects, Epistles and Gospels, was created, Lent began on the Sunday which was called Quadragesima for it was about 40 days before Easter...."
Still does begin on a Sunday in Orthodoxy, this year the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.
How could one ever possibly enter Lent without feeling thoroughly sick to the stomach from the pancakes and sausage ingested during the pancake supper the previous evening? *\;-|
(I start my penance early... *\;-)
"What about Shrove Tuesday?"
All the Shroves in Greece died out 1800 years ago or so; hunted 'em to extinction we did! The Turks tried to reintroduce an Anatolian variety, but by then we had forgotten their early Christian identity and believing them to be Mohammedan demon creatures, the Greek slaves woking on the Turkish Shrove ranches poisoned them with retsina and kokoretsi and the Turks gave it up as a bad idea.
Actually we are starting activities on Sunday too.
Even though I am in the "thick" of Pennsylvania Dutch Fastnacht country my congregation's Lenten prepration begin on Transfiguration Sunday (Quiquagesima) when the children bake homemade pretzels and then distribute them during the Liturgy as a reminder of the coming Lenten disciplines of prayer (pretzel arms resemble a prayer posture) fasting (a simple food) and almsgiving (pretzels given as a gift to one and all).
Almost the same thing. Greek shroves are extinct, but here's a Turkish one! :)
This coming Sunday is Meatfare Sunday, the last meat for us until Pascha. The following week is Cheesfare week during which we can have dairy products, but no meat, then Monday of the next week we begin the strick Lenten Fast, no meat or eggs, no fish with backbones, no olive oil, no dairy products, no wine except on weekends until Pascha. Most of us can do the meat, eggs and the dairy, its the rest which gets really tough.
In Orthodox usage, the fast begins on a Monday. The difference between Eastern and Western usage is this: the West includes Holy Week in the count of 40 days, but excludes the Sundays falling within Lent, so that Ash Wednesday is 46 days before the Latin Easter; the East considers Holy Week a separate 6 day fast, and excludes the two feast days that always fall in Great Lent--Annunciation and Palm Sunday--from count of 40 days so that Pure Monday is always 48 days before Pascha. (Or 47 and 49 if you count the old Jewish way).
Liturgically Orthodox Great Lent begins with Forgiveness Vespers on the evening of the day popularly called 'Cheesefare Sunday'. Though fasting begins that midnight. (I do not know why, but Orthodox liturgical days are Jewish days--sundown to sundown--but fasts are observed on Roman days--midnight to midnight.)
We have a longer period of 'pigging out' to eat up the non-Lenten foods: a week with no fasting, followed by a week with the usual Wed. and Fri. fasts, followed by a week when no meat is eaten, but none of the other fasting disciplines apply: hence the popular name of Forgiveness Sunday, 'Cheesefare', since it's the day you say farewell to cheese, milk, eggs and fish--the Sunday before, properly the Sunday of the Last Judgement, is popularly called 'Meatfare' for similar reason.
. . . a good Shrove dog.
Those two pancakes sure get around...
I think they must be stale by now. . . .
That does sound like a tough regime. What do you eat?
"That does sound like a tough regime. What do you eat?"
The real tough ones live on boiled greens, basically. The rest of us...lobster, clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels, fish egg spreads, eggplant spreads, octopus, salads without olive oil, pasta with clam sauce; lentils, various vegetable dishes. Only kidding about the lobster of course. That's too expensive, but the rest of the stuff, yes. We've got centuries of recipes to choose from so its not all that bad. Actually, the hard part for most people is the olive oil and the cheese and dairy. We can still have wine on weekends so that helps. No rules on beer or good whiskey that I am aware of! :)
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