Why do we Fast?
In Tewahdo Orthodox Church Holy Tradition, every feast is preceded by fasting and prayer. Fasting plays an important role as a moral and spiritual discipline. Fasting is an offering, a voluntary refraining from
that which one is allowed, springs from the love and respect which one feels for God. But why do we fast - according to the Fetha Negest/authoritative collection of canon law and civil law of the Church/ fasting is
- To show our obedience, love and trust in God
- To attain forgiveness of sins [Exodus 34:28; John 3:5-10].
- To get reward/ blessing Angels, Saints.
For more read
How do We fast?
- During this fasting period, Christians abstain from alcoholic drink, meat and all animal products: meat, milk, butter and eggs. Only the seriously sick, Mothers in their early months of child bearing and children less than seven years of age are exempted from fasting. [exemption needs an approval from Confessional Father- Priest]
- Fasting from all worldly pleasure that hinder us from becoming more like God and the angels who do not need food. It involves sensory deprivation of various body part from distraction so that we could fully devote ourselves to God- eyes are to fast from seeing evil, hands from doing harm, tongue from gossip, ears from rumor, feet are to be still and the body should be wholly attentive to God.
The fast that leads to the feast of the Assumption of St. Mary is the most highly honored fast/feast among all the fast/feast of the saints. It ranks second only to the fast/feast of the Lord. There are 33 feasts of St. Mary during the year, according to Teamre Maryiam [Miracles of St. Mary] and 4 main feasts for St. Mary in Eritrean Orthodox church are:-
- May 9 , Ginbot 1, St. Mary's birthday
- Dec 13, Tahsas 3, when St. Mary entered into the temple
- Jan 21, Tiri 21, when she departed
- Aug 22-27, Nehassie 16-21, Assumption raised from the dead
What is the Story of Filseta?
Why Do we Love/Venerate St. Mary In Tewahdo Church?
It is very important for any Christian to understand fully what St. Mary has played in God’s work of Salvation to humankind. It is very difficult to talk / explain about the mystery/miracle of Incarnated God, God’s relationship with humanity, God’s love and charity without her willingness to participate in the Salvation of humanity to bear the Word of God Himself. We Orthodox Tewahdo Love/ due the utmost veneration to St. Mary for the following reasons:
- She is the Means for our Salvation- God has extended His grace to humanity in the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the Holy Virgin. She stood between God and the whole human race [Is. 1:9] , God become the Son of Man and made men sons of God [Is. 7:14, Jn 1:1-14]. We love her because it is through her that the earthly [we] become heavenly.
O Mary, for this we love and exalt you, because you bore for us the true Food of righteousness and the true Drink of life.
- She is a Mother of God the Son. She willingly choose to participate in our salvation to bear the Word of God Himself and become the Mother of God. It is through her that our salvation has become accessible in her Son, Our Lord Christ. In the Anaphora of St. Mary (Qidasie Maryam), we say "O Mary for this we love and we exalt you because you did bear for us the true food of righteousness and the true drink of life. " It is because of St. Mary that we are able to take Holy Communion, because God chose her to come into flesh for our sake.
- Currently she is a perfect state in Heaven standing at the right hand of the King of all [Ps. 44:8] interceding, pleading, praying and helping all of us until the final judgment. who is better to intercede on our behalf than the Holy St. Mary who enjoys a resurrected glorified body who lives in Heaven with Her Son? Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ granted her request at the wedding in Cana of Galilee to change the water to wine [Jn 3]. “.. a great wonder in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun and moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars…” [Rev 12]
- Lastly but not least, she has left us a good example of spiritual virtues on how we could live while we are on earth. She is the Mother of all virtues without exception. Some of the virtue we see in her are holiness, purity, meekness, humility, faith, hope, love...She is the perfect example how we should obey and become a good servant of God while on earth.
Few concrete teaching of Eritrean Tewahdo Orthodox Church about St. Mary
- She is The Mother of God the Son . St. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ; Jesus is God; therefore She is a Mother of God.
- Perpetual Virginity- St. Mary has remained a virgin before, during and after birth of Jesus Christ. [Ez. 44:2]
- She is sinless. St. Mary from the moment of her conception- through the grace of God and in the view of the merits of Jesus Christ- God has preserved her free from all sins.
- Her Body has assumed to heaven- The Lord did not permit the body of St. Mary, in which He Himself had dwelt to fall prey to corruption and dissolution; though Mary as a human being underwent death, she was taken into heaven.
How do we benefit from this Fast-
- We are fasting to receive the forgiveness of sin through the blessing and prayer of St. Mary
- We are fasting to see St. Mary as the disciples saw her after fasting twice for 16 days; and see her miracles in our own life.
- For God to grant us our wish that is consistent with His will through the intercession of St. Mary
O Virgin, you are the ideal and the prophecy of the prophets, the favour of the apostles, the mother of martyrs; the sister of angels ; the boast of the young men and virgins and the monks who are watchful day and night at your gates.
Glory Be to God!