The Chinese Orthodox Church
English translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas
An audio recording of the words of Bishop Ephraim of Bikin about Great Lent; it was published in Chinese, with the assistance of the SS. Peter and Paul parish in Hong Kong, on social networks and websites devoted to Orthodoxy in China. Such pastoral instructions are available to believers in China primarily in print; thus of special importance is the fact that the recorded message is made in the native Chinese language.
The brightest, most beautiful, instructive and poignant time on the Orthodox calendar is the period of Lent and the most important holiday – Pascha. Why does one need to Fast?
We offer an answer to this question.
Great Lent [Great Fast] – is the most important period of the Orthodox Christians. It is the preparation for meeting of the chief Orthodox Christian holiday – the Resurrection of Christ. Interestingly, the Fast is both a modest consumption of food and spiritual exercises. Every person who fasts should exclude from their food products of animal origin (this is restriction of food for the body) and pray much, read the Scriptures, ask God for forgiveness of sins and purify one’s soul of anger, resentment, and everything that is bad (this restriction is for the soul). Fasting is very important for people. Even doctors recommend abstaining from animal proteins and fats for some time , because it’s good for everyone. However, the meaning of fasting is not to lose weight. While fasting is a necessary rejection of excess food. This makes it possible to test yourself: how a person can limit himself, does he have the willpower to not eat meat, whether a person has power over himself, not to do anything bad from the start of the Fast to the chief holiday of Pascha. It is also a time of cleansing the soul of extra, unnecessary moods that hinder being a good person. God wants everyone to be good. God help everyone to become good. But in order to begin to change on the inside, to become better, one must exercise. The simplest exercises (and also the difficult ones ) -are to limit oneself in food and words and thoughts. Thus a person begins to change for the better.
When a person begins to limit food, entertainment, cleanse himself of evil thoughts, then he does it not only for himself, but also for God, who wants everyone to become good and kind. That’s why Fasting is needed – to make man better.
So, if someone wants to change for the better, if one wants good changes with God’s help, you must begin to limit yourself and ask God for help. If God sees that a person is trying, God helps.
Lent is a treatment and medicine for every human soul. What happens to a person during the Fast? He gets rid of diseases of body and soul; he casts out his bad thoughts. That is, the person becomes attentive and changes for the better. But we all know that when a drug is taken continuously, then a person becomes healthy. This also applies to Fasting. Try to give up meat for several days; during these days ask God to help you to improve; pray, read the Scriptures, and you will see that God helps you. If you like it, then try it for a few more days. It may happen that a few days plus a few more days will eventually turn into a few weeks. And you will see how good it it that you know about fasting – it is a spiritual medicine for people.