Orthodox fasting


#1

I know that orthodox fasts weekly on wednesday and friday, but got a question:

  • Does this count for meals during the day and products like fish (with backbone), oil and milk product and animalic products?
  • Or does it also involve like not drinking at all (like water, milk and for example tea)?

I am curious and learning..so this might sound a bit "green".


#2

I'm not Orthodox, so I can't give concrete answers. All I can suggest is checking out some of sites on Holy Orthodoxy for info (or asking a nearby Orthodox priest). The only one I can think of off the top of my head is the Orthodox Wiki site. At least it's a start...Good luck!

orthodoxwiki.org/Fast


#3

[quote="Padraig1972, post:1, topic:284055"]
I know that orthodox fasts weekly on wednesday and friday, but got a question:

  • Does this count for meals during the day and products like fish (with backbone), oil and milk product and animalic products?
  • Or does it also involve like not drinking at all (like water, milk and for example tea)?

I am curious and learning..so this might sound a bit "green".

[/quote]

We fast a lot. :D

Much of the fasting rule can depend on one's spiritual father. But the following link is a very good general guideline:
abbamoses.com/fasting.html


#4

Thank you so much and not being an orthodox (yet) i have been test-fasting today and been forced at work (to drink a small glass of water), but have no food for 19hrs (when i write this).

I think fasting is a good thing and i find the article in the link interesting. Just began a path towards reading, learning, investigating and attending services in a ROCOR. I am excited and looking forward to know-learn more about the orthodox faith in time to come.

:)


#5

[quote="Padraig1972, post:1, topic:284055"]
I know that orthodox fasts weekly on wednesday and friday, but got a question:

  • Does this count for meals during the day and products like fish (with backbone), oil and milk product and animalic products?
  • Or does it also involve like not drinking at all (like water, milk and for example tea)?

I am curious and learning..so this might sound a bit "green".

[/quote]

Orthodox fasting can be complicated. On bright week, Easter week there is no fasting at all.

Fish is not permitted except for some days, niether is milk, cheese etc. Wine is not allowed during fasts. Oil esp olive oil is forbidden during fasts.

I have not memorised the complex rules, I just look at my Orthodox calendar, and sometimes I slip up. Easy for a retired man with a stroke, one day is close to the others.


#6

Very rarely does the fast prescribe that we abstain from all food and drink.

The usual fast means no alcohol, meat, or dairy. There are a few days where an absolute fast is recommended, but these few are all centered around the Lenten season.

As already stated though, the exact rules for fasting are typically set in consultation with a spiritual father.


#7

[quote="Mickey, post:3, topic:284055"]
Much of the fasting rule can depend on one's spiritual father. But the following link is a very good general guideline:
abbamoses.com/fasting.html

[/quote]

Thanks for the link. I'd like to try the Dormition fast, or at least a modified version--when is it scheduled for this summer?

I must extend a hand of respect to you and all Orthodox who attempt to fulfill the requirements for abstaining from certain items for over six out of twelve months. The whole thing still seems nuts to this Westerner, even while knowing that Orthodox fasts don't entail giving up all food and drink twice a week and more, à la Ramadan.


#8

[quote="Trebor135, post:7, topic:284055"]
Thanks for the link. I'd like to try the Dormition fast, or at least a modified version--when is it scheduled for this summer?

I must extend a hand of respect to you and all Orthodox who attempt to fulfill the requirements for abstaining from certain items for over six out of twelve months. The whole thing still seems nuts to this Westerner, even while knowing that Orthodox fasts don't entail giving up all food and drink twice a week and more, à la Ramadan.

[/quote]

The Dormition Fast is the two weeks leading up to the Dormition.

As others have said, fasting should be done with supervision of a spiritual father.

Regarding abstaining and fasting, I think the writing of +Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory is very good. You can read a piece of his on this in his book on googlebooksGreat Lent. See the section on "The Two Meanings of Fasting" (pg 49-52).

We Eastern Catholics also follow the fasts. :) My parish follows the same calendar as the local OCA.

Fasts are preparations, Saturday night in preparation, anticipation for Sunday Holy Eucharist, Dormition Fast is a preparation and anticipation for the Feast Day of the Dormition, one of our 12 Great Feasts. Feast Days occur within a kind of bell curve of anticipation, the Feast, and then the leavetaking. It gives our lives a wonderful rhythm. :)


#9

[quote="5Loaves, post:8, topic:284055"]
The Dormition Fast is the two weeks leading up to the Dormition.

As others have said, fasting should be done with supervision of a spiritual father.

Regarding abstaining and fasting, I think the writing of +Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory is very good. You can read a piece of his on this in his book Great Lent on googlebooks. See the section on "The Two Meanings of Fasting" (pg 49-52).

We Eastern Catholics also follow the fasts. :) My parish follows the same calendar as the local OCA.

Fasts are preparations, Saturday night in preparation, anticipation for Sunday Holy Eucharist, Dormition Fast is a preparation and anticipation for the Feast Day of the Dormition, one of our 12 Great Feasts. Feast Days occur within a kind of bell curve of anticipation, the Feast, and then the leavetaking. It gives our lives a wonderful rhythm. :)

[/quote]

Yes. When I was Eastern Catholic, I tried to honor the fasts as best I could. It was much more difficult then because I was coming from the Roman Catholic Church...and fasting in the manner of the Easterners was a big shock to me. I have since grown into it with the help of my spiritual father.

We must be very careful not to take a leglalistic view of the fasts. They are for our spirtual well being. :)


#10

Yes, please pay attention to Mickey's posts here. I have little to add to them except to encourage you that with proper guidance (i.e., probably not from an internet message board :)), you can certainly adjust to the Eastern way of doing things, even if you're quite western. I was worried that I might not be able to hack it myself, seeing as how my church is famous for the sheer length and severity of its fasts, but barring one hiccup early on in the process (during which I was specifically told **not* to fast*, so Mickey's words are right here, too; fasts are for our spiritual benefit and preparation, not to risk our health or anything like that in an attempt to be pious), I have not had any problems. Made it through the 55 day Lenten fast without problems, and in fact just today realized how thoroughly I had internalized the fasting when I absentmindedly asked my priest what I should do about a family visit next week that might conflict with the Friday fast. Fr. Philemon responded in a loving manner, though I'm sure he was quite amused: "Have you been fasting still? Why?! It is the Holy Fifty Days! Fasting is not observed for this period, when we celebrate the resurrection. Stop it right now and enjoy life with Christ!"

And I've been attending church for the better part of a year now. :blush: Luckily one of the deacons, my former neighbor and a great guy all around, chimed in to help make me feel less stupid: "Don't worry. I ask about that every year around this time, because I always forget that we actually aren't fasting at some points of the year." :D A snapshot into the Orthodox mindset, maybe... :)


#11

[quote="5Loaves, post:8, topic:284055"]
The Dormition Fast is the two weeks leading up to the Dormition.

As others have said, fasting should be done with supervision of a spiritual father.

Regarding abstaining and fasting, I think the writing of +Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory is very good. You can read a piece of his on this in his book Great Lent on googlebooks. See the section on "The Two Meanings of Fasting" (pg 49-52).

We Eastern Catholics also follow the fasts. :) My parish follows the same calendar as the local OCA.

Fasts are preparations, Saturday night in preparation, anticipation for Sunday Holy Eucharist, Dormition Fast is a preparation and anticipation for the Feast Day of the Dormition, one of our 12 Great Feasts. Feast Days occur within a kind of bell curve of anticipation, the Feast, and then the leavetaking. It gives our lives a wonderful rhythm. :)

[/quote]

Well... so much for that idea then, haha. Maybe I'll try some of my meals without meat/dairy, rather than the two full weeks. At this point I don't have a priest to guide me and am not receiving communion.

Maybe next year... sigh

I appreciate your good advice and that of Mickey and Dzheremi.


#12

I think the Orthodox fasts are commendable. :thumbsup:


#13

My personal experience is that the Wednesday and Friday fasts are harder at first because you need to come to associate the fast with the day, it can be easy to forget. When it comes to the big fasts, those are easy to remember, and it becomes a matter of discipline.


#14

[quote="dzheremi, post:10, topic:284055"]
Fr. Philemon responded in a loving manner, though I'm sure he was quite amused: "Have you been fasting still? Why?! It is the Holy Fifty Days! Fasting is not observed for this period, when we celebrate the resurrection. Stop it right now and enjoy life with Christ!"

And I've been attending church for the better part of a year now. :blush: Luckily one of the deacons, my former neighbor and a great guy all around, chimed in to help make me feel less stupid: "Don't worry. I ask about that every year around this time, because I always forget that we actually aren't fasting at some points of the year." :D A snapshot into the Orthodox mindset, maybe... :)

[/quote]

If I knew this is the Coptic tradition I'd forgotten it. :) I know fast-free days after Pascha until Pentecost is a something Antiochians and Melkites both have. We Russians have Bright Week fast free. We do "abstain" from any kneeling/prostrations during the week until Pentecost. :D

In the Russian and OCA parishes I'm around, and my own EC parish, we get wall calendars from the parish in December for the coming year, that list all the feasts and the readings and the fasts. Ours is from St. Tikhon's Seminary Press. I keep one downstairs by my computer and one upstairs in the room off the kitchen. I haven't seen these wall calendars at the Greek Orthodox Churches but maybe I just wasn't there during the weeks they're given out. Does your Coptic parish give out this kind of wall calendar with all the fasts, feasts and readings? Parishes with a website also often have a monthly calendar on their website, tho some of those I've found utterly confusing, the symbols they use to denote "no whatever".


#15

[quote="Nine_Two, post:13, topic:284055"]
My personal experience is that the Wednesday and Friday fasts are harder at first because you need to come to associate the fast with the day, it can be easy to forget. When it comes to the big fasts, those are easy to remember, and it becomes a matter of discipline.

[/quote]

Interesting. I grew up way back when Fridays were no meat for Latin Church Catholics. My best friend was Latin Catholic so that was reinforced by all the time we spent together, and even my own Episcopal family often had fish on Fridays. It's still very common for restaurants to have clam chowder as their soup on Fridays. So although what we abstain from is different from that-- no meat, fish, dairy, eggs,wine, oil-- Friday was already well preserved in my mind as set apart food wise. Adding Wednesdays hasn't proved too big a deal. There is a very different feel to fasts that last for weeks. I think more about recipes during them. I get new cook books out of the library. I'm always thinking "I should try some new recipes now", and then the next thing I know the fast is over and I haven't tried anything new. LOL!


#16

[quote="5Loaves, post:14, topic:284055"]
Does your Coptic parish give out this kind of wall calendar with all the fasts, feasts and readings? Parishes with a website also often have a monthly calendar on their website, tho some of those I've found utterly confusing, the symbols they use to denote "no whatever".

[/quote]

No on both counts (we officially listed as a "Coptic Community" by the Southern U.S. Diocese, meaning our community is too small for its own church or priests, so we don't have a lot of things that others do). The only calendar I've ever seen was from St. Anthony Monastery in California, but as far as I can tell it's not listed in the bookstore on their website, so I'm guessing you have to actually go there to get one.

No, I think the best thing to do for the Coptic Church (or at least what my Coptic friends do) is assume that it's fasting time unless you're told otherwise. There are far more fasting days during the year than non-fasting, so chances are that there is some kind of fast going on. :)


#17

[quote="dzheremi, post:16, topic:284055"]

No, I think the best thing to do for the Coptic Church (or at least what my Coptic friends do) is assume that it's fasting time unless you're told otherwise. There are far more fasting days during the year than non-fasting, so chances are that there is some kind of fast going on. :)

[/quote]

:D

I think we only fast about half the days of the year.

[quote="dzheremi, post:10, topic:284055"]
Fr. Philemon responded in a loving manner, though I'm sure he was quite amused: "Have you been fasting still? Why?! It is the Holy Fifty Days! Fasting is not observed for this period, when we celebrate the resurrection. Stop it right now and enjoy life with Christ!"

[/quote]

This is also an interesting difference that you have 50 days for Paschaltide. We have Leavetaking of Pascha with Ascension Eve vespers.


#18

[quote="5Loaves, post:17, topic:284055"]
:D
I think we only fast about half the days of the year.

[/quote]

I'm not sure exactly how many it is, but I know it is over 200. Wiki says over 210, but doesn't give an exact number.

This is also an interesting difference that you have 50 days for Paschaltide. We have Leavetaking of Pascha with Ascension Eve vespers.

Yeah, I guess this a general OO thing, as I know the Ethiopians do it this way, too.


#19

[quote="dzheremi, post:10, topic:284055"]
Yes, please pay attention to Mickey's posts here. I have little to add to them except to encourage you that with proper guidance (i.e., probably not from an internet message board :)), you can certainly adjust to the Eastern way of doing things, even if you're quite western. I was worried that I might not be able to hack it myself, seeing as how my church is famous for the sheer length and severity of its fasts, but barring one hiccup early on in the process (during which I was specifically told **not** to fast, so Mickey's words are right here, too; fasts are for our spiritual benefit and preparation, not to risk our health or anything like that in an attempt to be pious), I have not had any problems. Made it through the 55 day Lenten fast without problems, and in fact just today realized how thoroughly I had internalized the fasting when I absentmindedly asked my priest what I should do about a family visit next week that might conflict with the Friday fast. Fr. Philemon responded in a loving manner, though I'm sure he was quite amused: "Have you been fasting still? Why?! It is the Holy Fifty Days! Fasting is not observed for this period, when we celebrate the resurrection. Stop it right now and enjoy life with Christ!"

And I've been attending church for the better part of a year now. :blush: Luckily one of the deacons, my former neighbor and a great guy all around, chimed in to help make me feel less stupid: "Don't worry. I ask about that every year around this time, because I always forget that we actually aren't fasting at some points of the year." :D A snapshot into the Orthodox mindset, maybe... :)

[/quote]

Interesting, do the Copts stop the regular Wednesday/Friday fasting during Paschaltide? I know that the Syrian Christians traditionally did this (and the Antiochian Orthodox Church recently has tried to return to this ancient custom). The Greek tradition from Constantinople just elevates all of the Wednesday/Friday fasts to oil and wine days, although it doesn't really make a huge difference since most Greeks and Middle Easterners don't observe the difference between oil and no oil days in my experience.


#20

[quote="Cavaradossi, post:19, topic:284055"]
Interesting, do the Copts stop the regular Wednesday/Friday fasting during Paschaltide?

[/quote]

Yes.

I know that the Syrian Christians traditionally did this (and the Antiochian Orthodox Church recently has tried to return to this ancient custom).

The Syriac Orthodox still do this. Interestingly, the Syriac Orthodox in Iraq have different rules than elsewhere; they do not fast on the Fridays between the Nineveh Fast (Jonah's Fast) and the Great Fast. The Syriac Orthodox Church Eastern U.S. Archdiocese website mentions this, but doesn't explain why it is so.

The Greek tradition from Constantinople just elevates all of the Wednesday/Friday fasts to oil and wine days, although it doesn't really make a huge difference since most Greeks and Middle Easterners don't observe the difference between oil and no oil days in my experience.

Yeah, this would not make sense for us, since we do not abstain from oil like you guys do, so there's no difference to be observed in the first place. On the other hand, we don't have cheesefare week like you guys do; we just have...lent that week. :blush: So I guess it sort of evens out somehow, maybe.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.