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Postul Sfintelor Pasti

Postul Pastilor, Paresimilor sau Patruzecimea, adica postul dina­intea Invierii Domnului, este cel mai lung si mai aspru dintre cele pa­tru posturi de durata ale Bisericii Ortodoxe ; de aceea in popor e nu­mit, in general, Postul Mare. El a fost randuit de Biserica pentru cuviincioasa pregatire a catehumenilor de odi­nioara, care urmau sa primeasca botezul la Pasti si ca un mijloc de pre­gatire sufleteasca a credinciosilor pentru intampinarea cu vrednicie a comemorarii anuale a Patimilor si a Invierii Domnului; totodata ne aduce aminte de postul de patruzeci de zile tinut de Mantuitorul inainte de inceperea activitatii Sale mesianice (Luca IV, 1-2), de unde i s-a dat si denumirea de Paresimi. 

In primele trei secole durata si felul postirii nu erau uniforme peste tot. Astfel, dupa marturiile Sfantului Irineu, ale lui Tertulian, ale Sfantului Dionisie al Alexan­driei, unii posteau numai o zi (Vinerea Patimilor), altii doua zile, adica Vineri si Sambata inainte de Pasti, altii trei zile, altii o saptamana, iar altii mai multe zile, chiar pana la sase saptamani inainte de Pasti; la Ierusalim, in sec. IV se postea opt saptamani inainte de Pasti, pe cand in Apus in aceeasi vreme se postea numai patruzeci de zile.
 
Incepand de la sfarsitul secolului al III-lea inainte, postul cel mare a fost impartit in doua perioade distincte, cu numiri diferite: Postul Paresimilor (Patruzecimii), sau postul prepascal, care tinea pana la Duminica Floriilor, avand o durata variabila, si Postul Pastilor (postul pascal), care tinea o saptamana, adica din Duminica Floriilor pana la cea a invierii, fiind foarte aspru. Abia in secolul al IV-lea, si anume dupa uniformizarea datei Pastilor, hotarata la Sinodul I ecumenic, Biserica de Rasarit a adoptat definitiv vechea practica, de origine antiohiana, a postului de sapte saptamani, durata pe care o are si astazi, desi deosebirile dintre Bisericile locale asupra duratei si modului postirii au persistat si dupa aceasta data. Dupa disciplina ortodoxa, se lasa sec in seara Duminicii izgonirii lui Adam din rai (a lasatului sec de branza), si postim pana in seara Sambetei din saptamana Patimilor, inclusiv.
 
Din cele mai vechi timpuri, postul Paresimilor a fost tinut cu multa rigurozitate. Canonul 69 apos­tolic osandea cu caterisirea pe slujitorii Bisericii si cu excomunicarea) pe credinciosii laici care n-ar fi respectat postul de miercuri si de vineri si pe cel al Paresimilor, neadmitand exceptii decat in cazuri de boala.
 
Pentru a trezi sufletele credinciosilor si a le indemna la cainta si smerenie, Biserica a hotarat, prin canoanele 49 Laodiceea si 52 trulan, ca in timpul Paresimilor sa nu se savarseasca liturghie decat sambata, duminica si sarbatoarea Buneivestiri, iar in celelalte zile ale saptmani (de luni pana vineri inclusiv) sa se savarseasca numai Liturghia Da­rurilor mai inainte sfintite.
 
Sunt oprite, de asemenea, nuntile si serbarea zilelor onomastice in Paresimi. Odinioara chiar si legile statului bizantin asigurau respectul cuvenit postului Paresimilor, interzicnd toate petre­cerile, jocurile si spectacolele din acest timp.
 
Postul propriu-zis al Paresimilor este precedat de cele trei saptamani introductive de la inceputul perioadei Triodului (incepand cu Duminica Vamesului si a Fariseului), care pregatesc treptat si prevestesc postul mai aspru, care incepe de la lasata secului.
 
Toate serviciile divine din timpul Paresimilor sunt mai so­bre decat cele din restul anului si indeamna la smerenie, intristare si cainta. Este timpul in care se spovedesc cei mai multi credinciosi, in ve­derea impartasirii din ziua Pastilor, conform poruncii a patra a Bisericii.