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Author Topic: Questions on the Dormition Fast and Communion Fast  (Read 274 times) Average Rating: 0
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swimming_rock
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« on: August 17, 2014, 01:41:57 PM »

Hey all,

I have a few questions regarding the fast for the Dormition of the Theotokos as well as regarding the fast before taking the Eucharist. Sorry if they seem pedantic, but it would put my mind at ease if someone could answer them.

1.) Is the fast from August 1st through the 14th, or must also fast ON the 15th (the actual Feast of the Dormition)? I ask because this year it also fell on a Friday which is usually a strict fast day. So do we break the fast anyway?

2.) I was recently fasting in preparation to take communion, but swallowed some food already stuck in my teeth (I had been eating popcorn earlier...) from a previous snack from that day, but I swallowed it after midnight. I guess I wasn't thinking. Does that mean I shouldn't take communion?

It was just stuck in my teeth the whole time and I didn't realize it until after midnight. Does it invalidate the fast? I was in doubt, but decided to take communion anyway as there was no time to ask the priest. I hope I'm not doomed? I'm not sure what to do now.


Thanks.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 01:44:42 PM by swimming_rock » Logged
Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 01:51:27 PM »

1.) Is the fast from August 1st through the 14th, or must also fast ON the 15th (the actual Feast of the Dormition)? I ask because this year it also fell on a Friday which is usually a strict fast day. So do we break the fast anyway?

Different traditions have different rules.  I think the rule in the Greek Church is that when Dormition falls on a Wednesday or Friday, you can have fish, but not meat/dairy.  So the fasting period is over, but there is still some fasting for the day of the week, although mitigated.  In my tradition, Dormition trumps Wed/Fri, so we break the fast regardless. 

Assuming a year in which Dormition lands on a day other than Wed/Fri, you fast from 1 August to 15 August (not the whole day, but until the end of the day's Liturgy). 

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2.) I was recently fasting in preparation to take communion, but swallowed some food already stuck in my teeth (I had been eating popcorn earlier...) from a previous snack from that day, but I swallowed it after midnight. I guess I wasn't thinking. Does that mean I shouldn't take communion? Does it invalidate the fast? I was in doubt, but decided to take communion anyway as there was no time to ask the priest. I hope I'm not doomed? I'm not sure what to do now.

You're not doomed.  Smiley

I have to look for the quote, but I think there is a father or theologian who discusses a similar situation and describes it merely as a temptation from the devil to prevent you from receiving Communion.  His advice was to ignore it and go to Communion anyway.  But it would be wrong to become careless about such things just because they can be excused: that carelessness would be a bigger obstacle to Communion than a minuscule amount of food or water.   
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014, 03:29:54 PM »

Thanks for the speedy reply, and helping to put my mind at ease. I'll remember to be more careful in the future.

I have two more questions on the official stance of the Church. If one were to take communion without fasting, does the Church consider that a sin which requires confessing and/or penance?

Also does the Church differentiate between one who tries to fast strictly but sometimes eats foods that are not fasting foods (like things with oil) vs. one who ignores the fast completely?

I'm just wondering how strict the Church generally is about fasting because I've heard a variety of opinions. In fact, not that many people I know fast as strictly as what I read about online.

Thanks for taking the time to answer me - I have a tendency to be fairly neurotic about these things to the point where I lose sleep wondering if I'm drinking condemnation unto myself because of communion. Sigh.
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2014, 03:40:06 PM »

My church offers weekly confession per the Russian tradition and so I always confess either disregarding a fast or being intentionally lax with it if I have done either. I personally wouldn't receive communion without confessing a deficiency in fasting, as I think that the weekly fasts Weds/Fri are a part of are preparation for reception.

I was taught by my spiritual father that it is a sin to not keep a fast, as especially the weekly fasts come from the apostles and are meant to be kept by all Christians (per historical documents like the Didache and also via universal tradition). We should always confess a laxity in fasting, but I understand that some in the Greek/Antiochian tradition only confess a few times a year if that, so that could make the situation more complicated.

I hope I've been somewhat helpful.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 03:40:35 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 03:47:31 PM »

I have two more questions on the official stance of the Church. If one were to take communion without fasting, does the Church consider that a sin which requires confessing and/or penance?

If you have no legitimate reason for not keeping the fast, I can't imagine a situation where one would commune anyway.  I would say this is the sort of thing that ought to be brought up in confession and the priest will handle it from there.  But if at all possible, it is best to speak to the priest about difficulties with fasting in advance of communing so that he can offer you the best advice with which to proceed.  

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Also does the Church differentiate between one who tries to fast strictly but sometimes eats foods that are not fasting foods (like things with oil) vs. one who ignores the fast completely?

Talk to your priest and follow his instructions/recommendations.
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 03:55:07 PM »

dear friend,
i've had these kind of questions before too!
generally worrying too much about it is bad. i found that prayer is a good weapon against worries.
the enemy would rather we worry too much about fasting than spend the time reading the Bible and coming close to God through prayer and repentance.

i'll give you example of my 'silly' questions:
'is honey ok during the fast?'
answer: 'no, i can't believe you even asked that, i can't even give up milk and you are worried about honey!'  Sad
so i made my friend feel bad because i asked this. i didn't realise she was having trouble with fasting.
in fact, honey is allowed during fasting, even though strict vegans don't eat it.

another 'what do you do if you have a loose corner of your finger nail that needs biting off?
do you bite it before Holy Communion and risk invalidating your fast if you swallow it,
or do you bite it off after Holy Communion and so risk bleeding (which should be avoided)?'
answer: 'don't bite your finger nails before or after Holy Communion, it is not a nice habit!'
 Cool
(it will not invalidate your fast, but really you should try to avoid bad habits!)

as for food stuck in teeth, the way i see it is that fasting is avoiding putting something in your mouth (food, cigarettes, gum).
so if something is already there, that is fine (although bad for your teeth).
brushing in the evening should help here; or you can use a tooth stick if you can get one from africa.
i love tooth sticks! if i could get them in uk, i would use them every day.

as for fasting on feast days, this varies widely between churches.
for us (as far as i can work out),
only the nativity feast (Christmas) and epiphany (theophany) are allowed to break the fast, but don't worry about our rules as coptic fasting is famously strict.

about how strictly you fast, this is between you and your priest.
if you break every fast in the first few days, maybe you are trying to do too much and you need to just avoid meat but eat fish, oil, eggs etc.
then you can slowly build up to 'full' fasting. but it depends on your priest.

ask God for some spiritual friends in your church who love to fast and who are welcoming and kind,
and do what they do, unless your priest has told you to fast less.
may God guide you, and remember, when you feel the need to worry, keep praying until it goes!
(i have this problem quite often and praying is the key)
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 04:41:07 PM »

I'm gathering that your priest gave you a blessing to commune, but something happened between your last confession and the day of communion that troubled your conscience. I would say that, if something like that happens, try to talk to your priest. If you can't do that, you need to make a judgment call: was your lapse deliberate or not? If you deliberately broke the fast, do not approach the chalice and confess to your priest at the next opportunity. If it was not deliberate, take communion anyway, but still bring it up with your priest at your next confession.

Same thing with the calendar fasts: if you broke them deliberately, do not commune until you have had a chance to confess, but if it was an accident, commune anyway and confess it afterwards.
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Maria
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2014, 05:23:16 PM »

Thanks for the speedy reply, and helping to put my mind at ease. I'll remember to be more careful in the future.

I have two more questions on the official stance of the Church. If one were to take communion without fasting, does the Church consider that a sin which requires confessing and/or penance?

Also does the Church differentiate between one who tries to fast strictly but sometimes eats foods that are not fasting foods (like things with oil) vs. one who ignores the fast completely?

I'm just wondering how strict the Church generally is about fasting because I've heard a variety of opinions. In fact, not that many people I know fast as strictly as what I read about online.

Thanks for taking the time to answer me - I have a tendency to be fairly neurotic about these things to the point where I lose sleep wondering if I'm drinking condemnation unto myself because of communion. Sigh.

Perhaps a good idea is to brush and floss your teeth before midnight.
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 06:35:18 PM »

Thanks for the speedy reply, and helping to put my mind at ease. I'll remember to be more careful in the future.

I have two more questions on the official stance of the Church. If one were to take communion without fasting, does the Church consider that a sin which requires confessing and/or penance?

Also does the Church differentiate between one who tries to fast strictly but sometimes eats foods that are not fasting foods (like things with oil) vs. one who ignores the fast completely?

I'm just wondering how strict the Church generally is about fasting because I've heard a variety of opinions. In fact, not that many people I know fast as strictly as what I read about online.

Thanks for taking the time to answer me - I have a tendency to be fairly neurotic about these things to the point where I lose sleep wondering if I'm drinking condemnation unto myself because of communion. Sigh.

Perhaps a good idea is to brush and floss your teeth before midnight.

Apparently Met Petros of Astoria would complain of the parishioners' foul breath when they followed this practice of not brushing their teeth after midnight! It's a pious custom, certainly, but I would hesitate to insist that brushing your teeth before going to Liturgy counted as breaking the fast.
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Maria
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 07:34:09 PM »

Thanks for the speedy reply, and helping to put my mind at ease. I'll remember to be more careful in the future.

I have two more questions on the official stance of the Church. If one were to take communion without fasting, does the Church consider that a sin which requires confessing and/or penance?

Also does the Church differentiate between one who tries to fast strictly but sometimes eats foods that are not fasting foods (like things with oil) vs. one who ignores the fast completely?

I'm just wondering how strict the Church generally is about fasting because I've heard a variety of opinions. In fact, not that many people I know fast as strictly as what I read about online.

Thanks for taking the time to answer me - I have a tendency to be fairly neurotic about these things to the point where I lose sleep wondering if I'm drinking condemnation unto myself because of communion. Sigh.

Perhaps a good idea is to brush and floss your teeth before midnight.

Apparently Met Petros of Astoria would complain of the parishioners' foul breath when they followed this practice of not brushing their teeth after midnight! It's a pious custom, certainly, but I would hesitate to insist that brushing your teeth before going to Liturgy counted as breaking the fast.

I agree. I have sat next to some in the choir whose breath really made me nauseated. They were not even aware of the problem.
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 07:40:27 PM »

Neither rigid, reactive retreats to legalism nor "self excusing" practices seem to be a proper response to fasting questions or difficulties. One size does not fit all. Talk to your priest in your diocese. We all have different Bishops and somewhat different answers. It can certainly be confusing and troubling. Talk it through with your parish priest.
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