Stop criticizing fasting, please


I don’t drink at all normally, but one year I was having trouble falling asleep and it was affecting my mood and productivity during the day. I decided to try having a glass of wine every evening during Lent to see if it would help me fall asleep. I didn’t keep it up because I really don’t enjoy the taste of wine.


I didn’t say that. :zipper_mouth_face:


I always like to read St. John Crystostom on fasting at the beginning of Lent and throughout the season. He takes a very balanced approach to the question of fasting and explains well how to approach the fast.


“Hell-worthy”? Has anyone here said that it is a mortal sin to not abstain on Ash Wednesday? I’ve never heard that it was.

We are both meant to abstain (give up read meat) and fast (defined as one moderate meal and two smaller meals which together don’t add up to the one moderate meal). So one indeed can question whether a huge fish meal counts as “moderate” and therefore appropriate for fasting purposes on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. However, we aren’t required to fast on the other Fridays, only to abstain, so it would be perfectly suitable for purposes of abstaining.

More importantly - it really boils down to whether you are able to BOTH work AND eat something that isn’t meat (or perhaps not eat anything, or perhaps wait until after midnight to eat the sub) …

Certainly you might have perfectly good reasons - the shops are shut or too far away, you haven’t eaten all day, you’re diabetic, the meatball sub is the only leftovers available, etc etc. If so, then you’re golden. If not, you may want to rethink.


Fasting is the opposite of feasting. We give up a good to fast, and we fast with limitations. Otherwise we are just giving up a bad habit, right?

This is why we are not Puritans or Temperance type people (while recognizing that alcoholism is a problem for some people): we understand that we need to appreciate the goods of the world in order to he grateful to God for them.


The reason fish fries are big meals at some parishes?

A lot of ethnic groups kept up the idea of not eating anything until after noon or three PM. Many people only ate one meal a day, so they would wait for dinner.

Also, anybody who was a manual laborer, or who had a job that involved a lot of movement, was excused from quantitative fasting, although still bound by abstinence.

So if Dad had a tough job and Mom was cleaning all day, they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted – and they were hungry as bears from voluntarily waiting to eat.

Let’s not assume bad stuff about our ancestors and neighbors!


The Church rule is to abstain. If one “chooses” not to, it is a sin. Whether or not it is a “mortal sin” depends.
It’s not so much the “not abstaining” as it is an “obedience” thing.


This thread is interesting. Our pastor read a long long letter from our bishop this last Sunday on just this topic, guard our tongues, better to give up gossip that to give up chocolate. Etc.

Also, I know in the past, I’ve read an explanation of how “fasting” means foregoing something good, not something we shouldn’t be doing anyway. Does that ring a bell with anyone?


Yup, I have heard it.

Fasting and abstinence are food things. Everything else is technically penitence or reparation or asceticism activities, although you can call it fasting as a shorthand.

Continence is voluntary cutting out of married sex, to allow more prayer. Not much preaching of that in modern times, although it used to be a thing.

Prayer and almsgiving, along with fasting/abstinence, are the three important Lent activities. But we often do not hear them preached, either.


No one is criticizing fasting. Never heard it


Because you have never heard it, it never happens?

I have heard it, and find it very annoying if only because (among a gazillion other reasons) it implies an either/or situation.


In the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, there are 4 fasts during the year: 1) the Great Fast i.e. Lent, 2) the Apostles’ Fast aka St. Peter’s Fast which is from the Monday after the Sunday of All Saints (=Trinity Sunday on the Latin calendar), 3) the Dormition Fast aka the Savior’s Fast (Spasivka) which is from Aug. 1 - 14 inclusive and 4) St. Philip’s Fast which is from sundown on Nov. 14 to Dec. 24 inclusive.

The RC Church needs to recover its own Tradition in re to fasting. The one thing I’d change (which I can’t since I’m UGCC) is the Ember Day(s) after Pentecost. Imho, they should be in the week immediately preceding Pentecost. On the Ukrainian Greek Catholic calendar, the Friday after Pentecost is one of the few Fridays of the year when we can eat meat.

As it stands now, we’re feasting while on the TL calendar they’re fasting and most RCs who follow the current RC calendar don’t even know about Ember Days.

Oh well…To each his own, to each his own…:notes:


One year I gave up coffee for the Great Fast. I only drink coffee when I go out to eat with my mom so it’s 1-3 times a week.

Well, Mom would have her coffee while I’m inhaling the smell of her coffee right in front of me and really wishing that Pascha would come…


As someone in the “please don’t fast” category, it would be nice if the other things were more ascetic and less the sort of generic be nice sort of stuff. It can be hard to figure out what to do sometimes that seems to be at least somewhat equivalent of a penance - and is an actual penance and not simply refraining from something on ought not be doing anyway.


Hrm… I have never experienced this. Others have indicated it’s a thing, so apparently it happens, but I’ve never experienced that personally.


Have you tried going off tv / radio / computer / phone as penance?


I never liked “don’t use X” as a penance. Especially something as vague as a “computer”. For someone like me, “no computer” means no books, no writing projects, no talking to anyone other than your coworkers, no music, very little devotional literature…you get the idea. I don’t have TV or radio and my phone barely works at home, but that’s because it’s all on the computer.


But fasting is “don’t use X” where the X is food. It wouldn’t have to be every day, you could just do it on ash wednesday and good friday for example. I normally agree with you that I wouldn’t want to give up something I use for positive purposes like devotions and fellowship, but then it’s hard to find anything to give up because most things we have we use for good (the same is true of food). Some CAF-ers have argued that giving up something good can help you to have more patience in the event that you are forced not to have it at some point (e.g. if you move house and you have no internet for a few days)


Fasting should be from something good but not necessary.

This is why pregnant and nursing mothers, laborers, and people with certain medical conditions have exemptions. For them, food is necessary.

The other thing to consider is what one might call the level of fasting. Someone who has never really fasted before might choose an easy fast, like no dessert. But this same person should be building up so that at some point in the future, they can fast from more things.

I do think a sort of deprivation is good during Lent* as–the way I see it–it teaches us not to spoil ourselves and teaches us not to be spoiled. I tell myself this when one part of me is feeling deprived due to lack of chocolate or something simple.

*What @Margaret_Ann said is also something to consider: we used to have our major fast of Lent, but lots of other fasting times throughout the year.

To me, this is like training: Lent and boot camp are both 6 weeks long (!), and then we keep up our training through the year til next Lent, and then we may be stronger enough to give up desserts and coffee, or whatever.

But giving up something is its own spiritual good, apart from adding things or giving up things we shouldn’t be doing anyway.


Yeah, as someone who does most of my communicating to other people for both work and for social purposes via the computer, to me “give up the computer, give up the phone” is like “give up what little talking to people you do, and basically go into solitary confinement.” And before anybody says, “Well this will motivate you to go out and make friends in real life!” no it won’t. My friends ARE real-life friends, but they tend to live a few hours drive from me at minimum, plus we are all busy. Making a few “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” type acquaintances is not going to replace being able to talk to someone I’ve been friends with for 20 years, or to an extended family member.

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