Melkite Greek Catholic Pre-Lent: Meat Fare Sunday or Sunday of the Last Judgment

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Date & Time: Sunday, February 24, 2019
10:00 AM-11:15 AM

Suggested Audiences: Elders, Adult, College, High School, Middle School, Elementary, Preschool, Toddler, Infant
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Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
256 Hamilton St.
Worcester, MA 01604
Description: "SAY GOOD-BYE TO MEAT. In the fasting practice common to all Byzantine Churches Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat would be eaten until Pascha. This is the first step towards the fuller discipline of the Great Fast when dairy products would not be eaten as well. This is why next Sunday is called Cheesefare Sunday (good-bye to dairy products).

Why is meat targeted in the Fast? Certainly in most places meat is a special festive dish. We think of the fatted calf which the father ordered slain to welcome his prodigal son back home. In some disciplines other festive items like wine and oil are avoided as well. As Christ said when pressed by the Pharisees about His disciples' behavior, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast" (Matthew 9:15).

In many cultures to this very day meat is a luxury. Numerous people regularly get their protein from beans or pulses, not meat. It's too expensive. One of the reasons why American fast food has become so popular throughout the world is that it makes meat affordable to more people than ever before.

There is another reason why we avoid meat on fast days. During the Lenten season we seek to focus on restoring the likeness to God within us, to stress the quality bestowed on us at the beginning and lost at the fall. During the Fast we seek to return to the Garden of Eden, as it were, to return to Paradise, and no one ate meat in the Garden.

According to the Book of Genesis, "God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so" (Genesis 1:29-30). We were all vegetarians in Eden. By avoiding meat we are symbolizing our desire to return to Eden, to recover our nature as God meant it to be.

The Book of Genesis paints a picture of human history in a downward spiral to the time of Noah and the flood. According to Genesis, after that catastrophe, God began restoring humanity on the earth. Part of that restoration included the addition of meat to our diet. God said to Noah, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as [I gave] the green herbs" (Genesis 9:15). Our fasting from meat, then, is not to avoid something bad but to express our desire for something better.

As the Jewish people developed, the meat of certain animals, fish and other sea creatures came to be considered as "unclean," unfit for God's Chosen People. This served in part to stress their particular relationship to God and distinguish them from others. In the New Testament we see that this distinction is abolished; there would be no separation between Jews and Gentiles and no unclean foods. This is expressed in the Acts of the Apostles which records St. Peter's vision of a sheet lowered from the heavens containing all kinds of animals. Peter was told to eat but he refuses on the ground that these animals were unclean. Then a voice from heaven told him, "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (Genesis 10:15). Gentiles and all foods were acceptable to the Creator and were to be received by the followers of Christ.

>> Meat Fare Sunday and Sunday of the Last Judgment <<

More Information: Website:
Phone: 508-752-4174
Entered by: Kathleen Laplante (

Created: February 23, 2019 at 1:23 PM
Last Modified: February 23, 2019 at 1:39 PM

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