Thursday, January 23, 2020 UTC

NOV 15 – DEC 24: PHILLIP’S FAST

20120502_St_Philip_Bethsaida

“Nativity Fast in the Home” (from 1995-2016 Melkite Eparchy of Newton) – https://melkite.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Christmas-Fast-in-the-Home.pdf

My Journey Through the Nativity Fast calendar: 2121a6_df1109e1bb1140a9ad3277b9f4550209

The Phillip’s Fast – The Nativity Fast, Awaiting the Savior Workbook: pilipivka-workbook

St. Phillip’s Fast for Families Week by Week Plan: st-philips-plan

On November 14, Eastern Christian communities are celebrating the Feast of St. Philip, the Apostle, which also marks the beginning of the traditional St. Philip’s Fast, 40 days before the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ.  According to legend, St. Philip the Apostle called down the wrath of God upon those who were torturing him to death. As a penance for presuming on the vengeance of God, it was revealed to him by an angel that he would not enter paradise until forty days after his death. Philip then sent word to the other living Apostles and begged them to fast for forty days after his death. Phillip is known as the patron saint of bakers and hatters.

To count the long days until Christmas, Eastern Christians have a number of beautiful customs. A candle holder in the shape of a six-pointed Star of David holds six red candles to be lit for each week before Christmas and one white Christ candle in the center to be lit on Christmas Eve. A 40-day Advent Calendar gives children a surprise for each day before Christmas.  A “St. Philip’s Chain” is made out of strips of paper containing  good deeds or prayers offered by children during the fast. At the end of the fast, it can be used to decorate the Christmas Tree.

The Phillip’s Fast may be observed voluntarily, partially, or in its entirety. The following are different levels of fasting:

Minimum fast is abstain from meat products on Wednesdays and Fridays, and take each fasting period to grow in your spiritual life. This means to eventually grow in fasting to the ascetic fast where no animal products are consumed but fish, wine and oil are allowed on the weekends. This takes time, effort and especially prayer to develop. Remember, “fasting, done with a specific purpose and accompanied by prayer, will bring you closer to God and give you blessings and spiritual strength.”(see Isaiah 58:6–11).

Law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, permitting dairy and egg products.  Abstinence is to be observed on all Wednesdays and Fridays

Strict abstinence is abstention from meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine and oil. 

If you never get the the Ascetic Fast, do not feel guilty.

The Ascetic fast guidelines are:

MONDAYs, WEDNESDAYs, and FRIDAYs of this fast are Strict Fast days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, fowl, alcoholic beverages, and olive oil.

TUESDAYs and THURSDAYs of the fast are Wine and Oil days. On these days the fasting discipline is relaxed a bit to permit wine and olive oil.

SATURDAYs and SUNDAYs of the fast are Fish, Wine, and Oil days. On these days the fast is relaxed even more to permit fish with backbones in addition to wine and oil.

Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, November 21, is always kept as a Fish, Wine, and Oil day, no matter what day of the week it falls on.

Please remember that abstaining from food during this period of preparation does us no good if we do not also, as St John Chrysostom teaches us, fast with:

…the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies

Let the hands fast by being free of avarice.

Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.

Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.

Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?