Virtue of eating less meat

Abstaining from animal products during a period of fasting is a practice that dates back to early Christian monastic tradition.

This tradition persists in the Orthodox Churches where even today fasting is characterised by abstinence from all animal products.

But while abstaining from meat in the Roman tradition is mainly associated with the sacrifice of the Cross (the Friday penance), in the Orthodox tradition the fast is also a prefiguration of life in paradise, where ‘the wolf shall live with the lamb … and a little child shall lead them’ (Isaiah 11:6).

In this way it becomes an act of reconciliation between humanity and the natural world, a restoration of a relationship which has suffered because of the sin of Adam and Eve.

I believe that the meaning of a Lenten fast can be deepened by reflecting on this ancient practice of meat abstinence in the light of reconciliation with creation.

Lent is a time to reflect on our habits, and to become free from habits that are harmful to ourselves and others in order to become healthier people, in body and in spirit.

However, Lent is not an end in itself. It prepares the Christian to become an Easter-person by instilling habits that make one free to live, by the grace of God, a life of charity and justice.

To fast to this effect, the physical fast of Lent must be accompanied by what Origen calls a ‘spiritual fasting’, which is characterised by two dimensions: exercise in the virtue of temperance and the avoidance of sin. Continue reading.

Source: Thinking Faith


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