Become a Certified Christian Counselor: East and West Fast DifferencesChristian Counselors can help many confused Christians of both East and West regarding fast rules and regulations. Christian Counseling sessions can include a time for informative exchange of information. One such conversation can include both Eastern and Western guidelines.
The History of Differences
Even prior to the schism of the Eleventh Century, the East and the West had begun to diverge socially from each other. While the Eastern empire continued to prosper, the Western empire began to crumble as barbarian invasions crippled it during the Fourth and Fifth centuries. Traditions that were once universally shared began to erode hence creating two different social and cultural traditions of Christianity. While sharing the same faith and professing the same lord, the West began to adapt to the culture that had subdued it. In fact, as Rome christianized the barbarians and became the only light of the dark ages, it also was changed in some ways.
The See of Peter became a secular throne as well as a spiritual one which whether for better or worst would shape the future of the papacy and its interactions with the new found kingdoms. As these changes progressed, the church itself would become a central figure in the new culture of Western Christendom. While there were many differences between East and West such a celebrant priesthood, the role of the pope, the filioque and other minor rules, the two churches continued to exist as one universal church. These issues would later lead to a schism between the two heads of Rome and Constantinople.
Among the minor differences were fast rules. The East then and as well as today, subscribed to a stricter Lenten code. This included days of Abstinence from meat products on both Wednesday and Friday. It also included Lent starting on Monday instead of Wednesday. A final difference was regarding complete fast days. The East subscribed to no dairy and meat on the first day of Lent and Good Friday.
The West would adapt to its new found converts and only enforce no meat on Friday, start Lent on Ash Wednesday and not enforce dairy on complete days of abstinence.
Since then, these rules have continued to exist in both churches. Slight differences include Latin age requirements of 21 to 59, while Byzantine requirements are for all who can receive communion.
The Eastern Churches in union with Rome also maintained their traditions but coincide with the West in regards to the Gregorian calendar, while the Orthodox hold firm to the Julian calendar–which ultimately places Easter usually on a different day. A final difference is the East counts Sundays as part of the consequent forty days of Lent, hence the Eastern Lent ends the Friday before Good Friday, but Holy Week still involves fasting as a separate period of purification. The West counts its Lent to the day prior to Good Friday and recently included Good Friday into the Easter Tridiuum till Easter Vigil. All fasts are still imposed the final three days.
Whether Eastern or Western, Catholic or Orthodox, or Catholic or Protestant, all can agree sacrifices and offerings to God as a universal whole are important. This Lent, no matter what rules or regulations bind us in charity, let us all offer together to God remorse for our sins and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of his Son.
If you are interested in Christian Counseling Courses, then please review the program. If you would like to become a certified Christian Counselor, then please review also the courses that lead to certification.
Mark Moran, MA