Anglican Church in Corea:
Being Documents, original and translated, issued by Authority during the Episcopate of the First Bishop of the Church of England in Corea between 1889 and 1905
by C. J. Corfe, Bishop
Seoul, July 18th, 1899.
Whatever distinctions are intended to be made between the terms "fasting," "abstinence" and "vigils" in the Table of the days of fasting and abstinence in the Book of Common Prayer, it is evident that on the subject of fasting, generally, as an integral part of Christian duty, we shall have to be very explicit in the instruction which is given to our newly baptized Corean brethren.
The thing is so entirely new to them and so much opposed to the self-indulgent habits of the Corean race that, in order to prevent evils from the abuse--either in excess or in defect--of fasting, I am making the matter the subject of a separate Pastoral letter which will at once communicate to you, my brethren of the clergy, the instructions which I would have you give to your flocks; and show you, my brethren of the laity who are in the habit of observing the Church's rule of fasting, how you may help our Corean brethren by your example.
We have found it necessary to tell them that the word "fasting," in this Table, means abstaining from all food; that the word "abstinence" means abstaining from food of certain kinds and in certain quantities; and that the word "vigil" means that watchfulness which, as a combination of prayer and fasting or of prayer and abstinence, is intended by the Church to prepare us for a due appreciation of her festivals.
The age during which the duty of fasting is to be observed is between boyhood and the age of fifty.
Dispensations, from the rules which follow, on the ground of health and otherwise, may be obtained from me through any of the priests of the Mission.
Until further orders, then, the following days are to be observed as days of fasting:--
1. Certain days of Lent to be hereafter specified.
2. The Saturdays in the Ember-days at the Four Seasons.
3. The Wednesday before Holy Thursday, being the vigil of the Feast of the Ascension.
4. The vigils of Christmas Day, Easter Day, and the Feast of Pentecost.
On these days those who are in the habit of eating three meals daily are expected to eat only two, and not to partake of the first before twelve (noon), in our Mission Houses no meal will be served before tiffin on these days--a practice which I trust will be followed in other houses, especially those in which there are Christian servants, that by your example they may be encouraged in learning habits of self-discipline. For the remaining meals on these fast days a diminution is to be observed both in the usual quantity and in the variety of the food taken.
Those who are in the habit of eating only two meals, daily are, on fast days, to eat but one--which however may be divided and eaten at different times provided that the first portion be not eaten before noon on the day of the fast.
Until further orders the following days are to be observed as days of abstinence:--
1. The days of Lent not set apart as days of fasting.
2. The Wednesdays and Fridays of the Ember-Days at the Four Seasons,
3. The Monday and Tuesday of the Rogation-Days.
4. The Vigils before
The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary; The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin; St. Matthias; St. John Baptist; St. Peter; St. James; St. Bartholomew; St. Matthew; S.S. Simon and Jude; St. Andrew; St. Thomas; All Saints.
6. All Fridays in the year except Christmas Day.
On days of abstinence the number of meals may be as usual, but the quantity of food taken at each meal is to be diminished and the "pan-ch'an" is to be of the simplest description. On days, both of fasting and of abstinence, all unnecessary, forms of innocent self-indulgence, e.g. in wine, tobacco, amusements, etc., should be either wholly given up, or partaken of with a full sense that the enjoyment of them is compatible with the spirit of the Fast which is intended, by keeping our body in subjection, to enable us to enter the better into the spirit of the Feast.
On Vigils you are moreover exhorted to attend the public prayers of the Church; or, if this is not possible, to say such prayers at home, so that by Prayer and Fasting you may prepare yourselves for the Festivals which follow.
I need to add but one word to remind you of the object of fasting. It is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The end of our Christian life is to glorify God; and fasting is a means which helps us to attain that end by the subduing of the flesh to the spirit.
Some can endure more than others. Such abstinence as the Church of England imposes upon us is all that I desire to impose upon you. And, be it remembered, the spirit of fasting must never be divorced from the spirit of Prayer. In proportion as we realise the blessedness of this union the definiteness of these rules, which at first may perhaps seem irksome, will grow to be a blessing which will sweeten all our lives. If we do not need the definiteness of the rules for our own sakes let us remember that, for the Coreans who have as yet no knowledge of fasting, some exactness of rule is necessary. I appeal to you to give them all the help which they can derive from your influence and example.
Always your faithful and affectionate
C. J. CORFE,
Bishop of the Church of England in Corea and Shing-king.