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Old 01-25-2004, 11:54 AM
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ewriggs ewriggs is offline
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Lent is Approaching!

Now that Nativity and Theophany (Epiphany; Blessing of Water) are behind us, it is nearly time to start the Fast for Great Lent.

Oh, this is a wonderful time of year!

In 2004, the "fast-free" week is the first week in February. During this week we are free from the usual Wednesday and Friday fasting (abstaining from meat, dairy, and fish).

Then there is Meatfare week, which is a "regular" week, but we are very aware that we need to eat up all the meat in the house! Following this there is Maslenitza, or Cheesefare Week. In this week we abstain from meat, but eat dairy and fish. On Cheesefare Sunday, at the end of that week, we celebrate by eating pancakes, butter, cheese, and fish. In the Russian tradition we make blini (thin pancakes) and dip them in butter or spread them with sour cream. We add slices of fish (pickled herring, sardines, smoked salmon) and shredded cheese and chopped eggs.

In the evening of Cheesefare Sunday, we have the traditional "Forgiveness Vespers." During this Vespers, are a number of long prayers said while kneeling, then the priest turns to the congregation and asks their forgiveness. Each person then goes up to the priest and asks and receives forgiveness, then a line is formed and each person kneels before each other person at the service and asks their forgiveness, saying, "Forgive me, my brother/sister." In this way we remember that our actions, even if committed in secret, in one way or another affects the others in our community and in our society. We "pull ourselve up by the napes of our necks" so to speak, and try to return to the kind of attitudes and behaviors that are more in line with the Perfect Will of God. We then stand and kiss each other and respond by saying, "God forgives." Then we go to the next person. The service then ends with a prayer and the usual dismissal after the last person has finished going through the line.

I'll post some Blini recipes in a few days.

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