A Question on Eastern Orthodox Fasting Standards: Please Help!


#1

I have a question for any of our Orthodox Christian brothers or sisters on this forum.

(My question concerns the fasting practice of the eastern/Chalcedonian Orthodox churches)

I’ve read about your fasting standards online and have discovered discrepancies in the specifics of the Apostles’ Fast and the Nativity Fast (before it’s heightened).

One source says that this is the norm for these fasts:

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Fish, oil, and wine allowed
TUESDAY/THURSDAY: Oil and wine allowed
MONDAY/WEDNESDAY/FRIDAY: Strict fasting (from meat, eggs, dairy, fish, oil, alcohol)

Other sources, however, indicate this as the standard:

SATURDAY/SUNDAY/MONDAY/TUESDAY/THURSDAY: Fish, oil, and wine allowed
WEDNESDAY/FRIDAY: Strict fasting (from meat, eggs, dairy, fish, oil, alcohol)

I know that the standards are flexible and that every Orthodox Christian decides what he or she will do on a case-by-case basis in consultation with his or her spiritual father, but what is the ideal?

Does it differ depending on one’s jurisdiction? i.e. which autocephalous Orthodox church you belong to? If so, which churches hold to which set of standards above for these two fasts? If not, why the discrepancy?

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:


#2

You have run into the maddening issue of local variations on how strictly the typicon is followed. To my knowledge, all jurisdictions have the same recommendations in the typicon. The first set of rules you posted is indicative of what the typicon actually prescribes: fish on Saturday and Sunday, oil and wine on Tuesday and Thursday, and a strict fast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Current Greek Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox practice, however, is sometimes to have a strict fast on the usual days (W/F), and allow for fish on every other day of the week (M/Tu/Th/Sa/Su), while the Slavs tend to adhere more strictly to the typicon’s recommendation (however, some Greeks and Antiochians do follow the recommendations of the typicon, and you will also find the stricter interpretation on some Greek and Antiochian calendars as well). In the end, the amount one fasts should be determined by what one is able to do reliably (with the fast prescribed by the typicon being the goal), so that a rule of fasting itself does not become an occasion for despair and sin.


#3

That all makes perfect sense. Thank you, Cavaradossi!

Three more questions on related matters:

**(Question 1) **The source that listed what you say the typicon actually recommends - the stricter option for the Apostles’ Fast and Nativity Fast - also said that on the special fasting days - Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, etc. - wine and oil are allowed, since these days are also celebrations.

But the Greek Orthodox calendar I found - which had the more lenient standard regarding fasting seasons as I posted above - indicated that the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross are in fact days of strict fasting.

Do you know what the typicon you’re referencing recommends here? I thought it was kind of odd that the more seasonally lenient source (the Greek Orthodox calendar I consulted) was stricter about the other fasting days.

(Question 2) The Theophany of the Lord (Jan. 6) is always fast-free, no matter what, correct?

(Question 3) The Greek Orthodox calendar I found indicated that between Easter Sunday and Pentecost, Wednesday and Friday fasting is mitigated (I can’t remember if fish/wine/oil was allowed or just wine/oil). Is that just the Greeks and Antiochians again, or is that a pretty universal Orthodox standard? What is the ideal from the typicon for Wednesdays and Fridays during the Easter season?

Thanks again! :slight_smile:


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