No, I have not been perfect in this fast. I didn’t read every ingredient of every product I consumed to make sure there was no oil or dairy in it. Potato chips are a special weakness of mine as well. I will make sure I am more strict with myself on the Wednesday and Friday fast until the Dormition in August.
Other than that, taking up this fast has been very good for me. As far as food is concerned, my palate has been opened up to a whole new world of possibilities. I would have never dreamed of being satisfied with grilled vegetables and tofu. But, the barbecue master Steven Raichlen is absolutely correct; “Anything that taste good baked, boiled, steamed, or fried will taste better grilled.” While fish is to be avoided, shellfish are permitted. A fast that allows for crabmeat, shrimp, and oysters can’t be that hard. And a vegetable based diet came out a bit cheaper than my normal meat based fare. I don’t know if I have lost any weight. But, my body feels very good.
Spiritually, the fast has been equally good if not better. It used to be that I would try to maintain morning and evening prayers on my own. The prayers I use in the Orthodox Study Bible, the Jordanville Prayer Book, and the St Phillip’s Prayer Discipline website are like helping hands in my journey of faith. One central theme I have noticed in Orthodox prayer is the seeking of mercy. I don’t hear that as often in many of our Protestant prayers. Thanksgiving, praises, supplications; all good things and prayed in all of Christendom. But, without mercy from God, what good are the other things we pray for and about? The constant seeking of divine mercy is what keeps us humble and reliant on God’s grace rather than our own power, intellect, and wealth.
So, I have learned to feed my body better stuff. I have also learned to nourish my prayer life with what is truly needed. Fr. Steven Freeman has a great article about the Apostles Fast and a very interesting blog as well.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.