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Baoutha Begins for Chaldeans - 3 Days of Fasting
By Rita Abro :: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 :: 25581 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, Chaldean Churches

The English word breakfast, in fact, means the meal that breaks the fast.  Fasting is on the mind of many Chaldeans as they enter their second day of a three day Baoutha fast.  Fasting is the voluntary avoidance of something that is good. When Chaldean Catholics talk about fasting, they normally mean restricting the food that they eat. Depending on the fast, Chaldeans will abstain between meals and the more disciplined and spiritual Chaldeans will fast from mostly all food.

While fasting takes the form of refraining from eating, it is primarily a spiritual discipline designed to tame the body so that the faithful can concentrate on higher things.

Annually Chaldeans fast for three days in observance of Baoutha; a community promise made to God centuries ago. (Click here to learn more about Baoutha)

This year Community leaders are asking Chaldeans to turn their prayers and alms towards the needy of Iraq.  Death tolls continue to skyrocket in Iraq over unsafe conditions and lack of security.  “To put it in perspective it is like ten Haiti in Iraq,” says Andrew Ishaya of Turlock, California.  “It sure would be nice for to have a $60 million telethon for the war causalities.  Until that time, I will use my Baoutha Fast as an appeal for mercy to the innocent men, women, and children of Iraq.  And whatever money I can save from my fast I will donate to an Iraqi orphanage my church is helping to support.”

“Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines,” says www.CHALDEAN.org spiritual columnist Frank Dado.   “Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform our lives.  Fasting and prayer can also work on a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, I am convinced that when God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive, repentant, and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and world. Fasting and prayer can bring about revival - a change in the direction of our nation and the nations of earth.”

Ironically the Baoutha fast commerourates a Chaldean Bishop’s plea, founded on God’s command of Jonah to help the people of Nineveh (modern day northern Iraq), during a plague. 

Chaldean Churches in Iraq hold a special Mass to rally the community behind the centuries old promise to God by the Chaldean people.  In Iraq, during the three day fast the Chaldean diet varies.  Mostly the Chaldean faithful will abstain from meat and dairy.  Those with special needs may modify the time when they fast. 

Iraqi Chaldeans would fast from meat and diary limiting their meals for three days to vegetables, herbs, soups, rice, and fish.  Leafy vegetables like spinach and parsley are often favored due to their cost and easy access. 

The intent of the fast is to self-impose a restriction that is challenging enough to make you mindful of prayer and reflective of the suffering of others. 

Fasting coincides with prayer and almsgiving (charity) says Dado.  “By controlling the passions of the body, we free our souls for prayer. And by refraining from eating, we free up food or money that we can give to those less fortunate than ourselves. The three spiritual disciplines go hand in hand, and the Church calls us to practice all three together, especially during fasting.

The Chaldean Church like all Christians of the Catholic family encourage individual Catholics to observe a stricter fast. Extreme fasting, however, can be physically harmful, so, as with all physical forms of penance and of spiritual discipline, Chaldeans should consult their physicians and parish priest before embarking on a very strict fast.

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.