This past Thursday we entered into a new phase of our liturgical year: Pylypivka, the pre-Christmas fast. Often people associate this fast with the difficulties faced by the Holy Family during their journey to Bethlehem. This is a nice symbolic explanation, but it denies the important liturgical roots of the season. Pylypivka prepares us for a major feastday (just as Great Lent prepares us for Easter). All fasts provide the opportunity to prepare ourselves to accordingly celebrate a feastday. Preparation is important and can take many forms. It is not simply about not eating meat on certain days! Fasts are meant to be periods of reflection, restraint, and good works. They are an extension of our common liturgical prayer, because “liturgy” means the work of the people (that expresses our faith).
I think we should all be very proud of our common efforts in the parish: our community prayer, sharing over coffee, work in the kitchen, project SMILE, the shipment of winter wear to the Donetsk Exarchate, etc. But each of us can live this fast in our daily lives: perhaps more self control in our conversations, more kindness to those around us, more care in our use of natural resources (for example water or electricity), more intentional spending by buying what we need, not simply what we want. This fast can help us to live out our Christian vocation more consciously.