LET YOUR SOUL BREATHE… Bishop Kurt’s Great Fast Pastoral Message: Let Your Soul Breathe
Why do we fast?
There are three important reasons why we fast:
First, we fast to partake of the Food of Paradise. Christ came to restore paradise to us and so we eat the food of paradise in conformity with this gift He gives us.
Second, we fast for Healing. The demons of physical and spiritual affliction can be driven out only by prayer and fasting, as Jesus indicated when the apostles asked why they could not drive out the demon from the child in Mark 9:29.
And third, we fast to conform to the will of God. Our life of faith in Christ is to follow Him. We fulfill His will for us by taking up our cross that, in dying to ourselves, we will be raised up. Fasting is the way we learn to conform our daily lives to this, His will.
How do we fast?
During the days of “strict fasting” we abstain from all animal products (dairy, meat, fish) and alcohol (wine and liquor). Beer is permitted. Typically shellfish is allowed. We are asked to eat less and less often, and to be more generous to the poor.
On “lesser” fast days we may enjoy fish and wine, but still abstain from meat and dairy products. We are attentive to the needs of others, and diligent in acts of charity and alms-giving.
Days during the seasons of the fasts when fasts are mitigated are Eucharistic days (Saturdays and Sundays) as well as Holy Days/Feast Days. A mitigated fast day means there can be no restrictions and no limit to the amount of food that we eat. During Great Lent a mitigated fast day is a day of lesser restrictions.
A fasting day begins at sundown on the eve of the indicated calendar day and continues through sundown on the indicated calendar day. Sundays are never fasting days so if a fast begins on Monday it must begin Monday at midnight (rather than Sunday at sundown).
Even if we find it very difficult to keep to this abstinence, the spirit of the fast is always recommended – that we abstain from things that are extremely pleasing or excessive and practice penance. More time should be allowed for prayer, attending services and for acts of charity to others.
Outside of festive periods, all Byzantine Catholics are required to abstain from meat on Fridays, though many also observe the ancient tradition of abstaining from meat on Wednesdays as well.
When do we fast?
In addition to Fridays, there are four main fasting periods indicated in our life of faith. Fasting typically is from sundown to sundown although sometimes there are various ways of abstinence practiced on Sundays or Holy/Feast days.
1)The Philip’s Fast (Advent) begins 40 days before Christmas following St. Philip’s feast (the evening of November 14th). This is a strict fast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with lesser fasts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It culminates with a Holy Supper on Christmas Eve.
2)The Great and Holy Fast (Lent) is preceded by two weeks of preparation. The first week is Meatfare, when Carnival occurs and there is no fasting. The week of Cheesefare is the time when we abstain from meat but enjoy all dairy products. Lent is a period of strict fasting, with mitigation for Saturdays, Sundays and Holy Days. Holy Week, with some mitigation, is a special time of intense prayer and fasting. It culminates with The Resurrection of our Lord, Pascha (Easter) Sunday.
3)The Apostle’s Fast begins the Monday after All Saint’s Day or June 1st (depending on when Pentecost falls). This is a strict fast followed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. This fast period leads up to Saints Peter and Paul feast day.
4)The Dormition Fast is held August 1st – August 14th and is a strict fast for the entire period. Fasting is mitigated on Saturdays, Sundays and Holy/Feast Days. We celebrate the Dormition of the Mother of God (Assumption) after this fasting period.
Created by Jacquelynn Buck, parishioner
Edited by Reverend Father Richard Rohrer
Authentic Greek vegan recipes for your Fast at the following website. ENJOY! http://thegreekvegan.com/