Today is the feast of St. Herman of Alaska, declared a saint by the Metropolia in 1970 (though I don’t think this has ever been recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate).  You can read his tremendous story here.  In seminary days Fr. Calivas shared a nice story about Herman in the context of fasting rules and how some people become obsessed with the letter of the law and not the real reason for fasting.  Herman encountered the eskimos and noted that they were not Mediterraneans – they pretty much had no vegetables and had to eat whale blubber to survive.  How can you ask such people to fast in the typical Orthodox fashion?  He instructed his flock to eat less as a way of fasting.  This is a nice lesson for us when we become obsessed with the rules and not the spirit of the fast.  This is especially important for our elderly who take medication and are more prone to becoming dehydrated, etc.  If you fit this description, don’t blindly follow the ascribed rules.  If you need to take pills, eat a modest breakfast and have some water before church.  Compensate in some other way – read about our faith, pray more, do something constructive rather than put health at risk.

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