running here and there, asking the
doctors: "Have I got this, that, or
something else? It hurts here;
it hurts there..." Medical
Waiting in a long corridor. The
adjacent rooms are empty. It
is not a public hospital, but a
luxury clinic.... for the few.
Further down the corridor there is
another patient and his visitors:
some friends, and a grandmother.
Treats are offered. It is
Friday. A day of fasting.
"Thank you, no. I'm fasting."
"Come on grandma, take one."
"Thank you, I don't want any."
"Go ahead, grandma, eat; Let the sin
It often happens in a company of
people, that someone - with a note
of "self-sacrifice" who however does
not fast - will tell the other
person (who is fasting) to
"eat, and let the sin burden me."
As if fasting is a tax that a
companion can pay.
This form of exhortation is
indicative of the legalistic
perception that we have, when it
comes to our relationship with the
Church. Crime and punishment...
Law, transgression, guilt,
obligation, sentence, atonement,
settlement... A perception that
is attributed to the medieval
barbarization that dominated in our
land, mostly after its liberation in
1821. The Canons of the Church were
reduced to barren laws, with a
predominant concern that one might
transgress them, in which case,
punishment would ensue.
The law of the
State may simply oppress us, however
we tolerate it so that society may
function rudimentarily. But
the law of the Church, Her Canons,
exist for the sake of healing us.
Whoever implements them, attains
therapy for his entire existence;
whoever does not manage to, will at
least gain therapy for his
is rather "elastic". It is
stretchable: man can reach the
point of committing the worst kind
of crime and, by finding an
argument, an excuse, his conscience
be dulled. A fountain can
spout dirty water, or become
"Come on... everyone steals..."
"Thou shalt not steal..."
And the situation is cleared.
That's why a "philanthropical"
adjustment to a social reality is
a crime. "If something is not
implemented by anyone (or most
people), then let's just delete it."
This "realistic" mentality is a
crime, because it eliminates every
possibility for repentance.
The rules of the Church are
indicators showing the straight path,
while Her "providence" (oekonomia)
allows man to gradually find a
balance in his life through a series
of ups and
downs, drawing strength from within
Nick Gallis (the Greek basketball
champion), as well as Pyrrhos Demas
(Olympic weight-lifting champion)
and every champion athlete in the
world all undergo a rigorous
preparation. If, during an
athlete's training session a friend
comes along and says to him "Come
on, let's go get a drink - let the
sin burden me" and the athlete
listens to his friend, he will
simply ruin his preparation and will
be unable to put all his energy into
his athletic goal. What could
he possibly expect to gain, from his
Well, that's the case with
fasting also. It is not a
matter of sinning-transgression, but
more like a case of losing one's
chance to train. Fasting is a
form of training. In the Church,
every form of "training" is
generally referred to as "ascesis".
If ascesis is interrupted because
one easily dismisses his "selfish
goal" and follows such exhorting
"philanthropists", he will not
attain his goal which is therapy:
the catharsis-cleansing of passions,
the enlightenment of the nous,
deification (theosis), and the
healing of the entire world.
Provided of course that the training
not turned into a championship-seeking
One's ascesis should not be
absolutized and focused only on a
strict observance of the ascesis
itself, by implementing the most
rigorous exertion possible.
The mind should also participate in
The spirit of
honour is necessary, continuous
improvement is imperative, but only
if one's final objective is at the
epicenter of his ascesis, and not
perfection of the means used to
attain that objective.
That was the
Pharisees' mistake: they had made
the means their objective. It was
fasting for the sake of fasting;
"the more I fast, the better person
I am, the more I am upholding the
Law, and God is therefore indebted
to me for doing so." Thus,
because of this arrogance, the
overall endeavour itself is cancelled.
Instead of the means being the cause
for Inspiration, it in fact drowns
one's existence in a hell of
(football, basketball, etc..)
normally undergo an annual training
period (apart from their regular
weekly training sessions).
They go to an athletic center to
specially prepare for the entire
year. The Great Lenten period
is something similar to that, for a
Christian; he too undergoes a more
intense "training", in order to be
prepared for the entire year.
athletes in the Church are called
ascetics. Ascesis naturally exists
for every Christian, but there is a
difference between a hermit's
ascesis and that of an "untrained"
Christian. The former chooses
the rugged upward path to the
summit, while the latter will walk
the smoother path, which will lead
him gradually to the summit.
However, both strive for the same
summit. The objective is
common to everyone: the restoration
of the "image" and the attaining of
In an age where
economic magnitudes determine the
relations between countries (and not
only them), the Church offers Her "oekonomia"
(providence) - Her concession - for
every "untrained" person, but at the
same time also safeguards the "akriveia"
(precision) of Her canons.
With Her philanthropy, She gives the
novice the opportunity to make a
start, without concealing what the
"track record" is about: the corner
Stone, the immovable Foundation, the Godman, the One Who is able to say -
and actually mean: "I can make your