Friday, September 20, 2019 UTC



“Nativity Fast in the Home” –

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. 

Minimum fast is no meat on Fridays.

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

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

The Ascetic fast guidelines are: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays are strict fast days: abstain from meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine, oil. Tuesday and Thursdays: wine and oil are permitted. Saturdays and Sundays: fish, wine and oil are permitted. Exceptions: Nov 16th- Apostle Matthew, Nov 21st- Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos, Nov 30th- Apostle Andrew, Dec 5th- Venerable and God-bearing Father Sabbas, Dec 6th- St Nicholas, Dec 8th- Maternity of Holy Anna, Dec 12th- Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec 13th- Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes and Virgin Martyr Lucy. On these days fish, wine and oil are also permitted.

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?