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Ask Father Vasiliy

"Dear Father Vasiliy" Feather PenOnce again Father Vasiliy Vasileivich, official Church Overseas of Russian Orthodox Christians (COROC) spokesman and parish priest of Saints Vladimir and Olga and Boris and Gleb Russian Orthodox Church in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, has agreed to answer letters from our readers.

Dear Father Vasiliy,
     What should I do if I see my priest in the meat section of the supermarket during the fast?
—Shocked in Sheboygan  

Dear Shocked,
     Keep walking.
—Father Vasiliy

PS: what are you doing in meat aisle? Or even looking into meat aisle that you might see and to recognize somebody?
—Father Vasiliy

Father to bless please.
     An unworthy deacon approaches with humble knees to beg your answer to question: Biting fingernails or also to be biting cuticles – does break not the fast?
—Humble to be deacon Martin (St. Martin in the Fields) Smith, Old Believerville, PA

Dear Deacon Martin in Field,
     Amazingly enough, this question was not ever raised in nineteenth century Russia. This is because people in nineteenth century Russia were, by and of large, sensible. Alas, poor deacon on knees is not thinking clearly. But not to fear. I am able to teach truth even to persons in Pennsylvania.
     Now at first you (especially you) may think that this is not allowed under Orthodox fasting rules. After all nails of finger and cuticles (I had to look this word up) are animal by-products. But think. Lenten fasting rules are about taking things into body. But your nails and cuticles are already part of body. Your body, I am meaning. You merely move them from one place in body to another place in body. This is like asking if you bite tongue and swallow blood is this breaking of fast. No, it is not. We will not speak of nose.
     Now, what is breaking of fast is if you are swallowing somebody else’s nails. Or cuticles. Then animal product is moving from another body into your body. We will not speak of nose. Also chewing on dog’s claws is against holy fast, but nobody in right mind would do this. You are in right mind, da?
—Father Vasiliy

Dear Father Vasiliy,
     Will you explain again what is wrong with margarine?
—Confused in Connecticut

Dear Connecticut,
     No.
—Father Vasiliy.

Dear Father Vasiliy,
     Why is it okay to eat shrimp during the fast?
—Full in Fullerton

Dear Full,
     Is to make silly American converts ask why is okay to eat shrimp during fast.
     Haha! I make funny joke. I hope you laugh.
     But, to being serious: Answer to this question is lost in mists of time. Hence we fall back on standard Orthodox answer for any unanswerable question: We have always done it this way.
     But is possible to say more, because we are able to speculating on why ancient wise and benevolent fathers would allow shrimp during fast. I am think this is because holy fathers take compassion on poor fasting persons on tiny islands, who cannot grow wheat and thus are not able to get enough food during fast. Please to remember this was before potatoes were imported into Greece from disreputable other hemisphere. Is good to think ancient fathers of church have soft spot in heart for poor island folk.
     Is probably not good to speculate on ancient fathers of church owning shrimp processing company.
—Father Vasiliy

Copyright © 2011 by Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

If you like Alex Riggle’s Orthodox-themed satire, you might enjoy his recently-released book, Is Outrage!, which gathers all (but one) of the Father Vasiliy articles from the Onion Dome under one cover. Just sayin’.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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