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Offline Orthophoria

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Nativity Fast
« on: November 14, 2010, 06:06:21 PM »
Greetings Everyone!

As a catechumen, I have not yet attempted to keep any of the Church's fasts, not even the Wednesday and Friday fasts (I am not sure if I am obligated to fast yet, and our parish priest has not really mentioned this in our catechumen classes, until now), but the Nativity Fast begins tomorrow, and last week in class Father suggested that we might attempt to keep this fast, as it is not as strict as the fast for Great Lent.  I am looking forward to doing my best to keep the fast, and have even purchased a cookbook of Lenten season recipes. 

Does anyone have any help/suggestions/advice for a first-time faster?  When during your catechumenate did you begin to observe the fasts, and is this something that was scheduled/suggested as part of your learning process, or was it something that you just decided to do when you felt the time was right?

Thanks for all your input!

In Christ,
Marcus

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2010, 06:43:15 PM »
Greetings Everyone!

As a catechumen, I have not yet attempted to keep any of the Church's fasts, not even the Wednesday and Friday fasts (I am not sure if I am obligated to fast yet, and our parish priest has not really mentioned this in our catechumen classes, until now), but the Nativity Fast begins tomorrow, and last week in class Father suggested that we might attempt to keep this fast, as it is not as strict as the fast for Great Lent.  I am looking forward to doing my best to keep the fast, and have even purchased a cookbook of Lenten season recipes. 

Does anyone have any help/suggestions/advice for a first-time faster?  When during your catechumenate did you begin to observe the fasts, and is this something that was scheduled/suggested as part of your learning process, or was it something that you just decided to do when you felt the time was right?

Thanks for all your input!

In Christ,
Marcus
Don't try to follow all the rules. At least try not to eat meat, and eat a little less. Btw, the money you save is supposed to be given away as charity. Keep that.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2010, 07:20:40 PM »
As a catechumen, it is not reasonably expected of you to go through the fasts with the strictness and severity of the Orthodox faithful.  However, if you want to do it and do it because you want a discipline to further your love of God and not out of some sense of obligation or merit, then make sure you ease into it.  Fasting can take a toll on those who are not used to it, both spiritually and physically.  But also get your father confessor on board; don't do it without his approval or help.  And above all, and this is most important, you must couple your fasting with prayer. Fasting without prayer is dieting.  Remember what our Lord said when he was asked how such faith that moves mountains comes about?  He said it comes about only with prayer AND fasting, not one without the other but only with both.
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Offline Paisius

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2010, 07:41:00 PM »
Don't try to follow all the rules. At least try not to eat meat, and eat a little less. Btw, the money you save is supposed to be given away as charity. Keep that.

I second that advice. A couple of things to remember: First, fasting should never be approached in a legalistic manner. There is no need to spend all your time looking at the ingredients on the food you purchase. If you're not eating meat then avoid meat, no need to freak out over some random meat byproduct. Second, we don't fast in an effort to punish ourselves or make ourselves miserable. If you are feeling miserable then you are trying to do too much. That is why the guidance of your priest is so important.

The other day I read one of the best explanation of why we fast I've ever seen. I think you may find it useful as well. The reason we fast it:

1) Food is good.
2) The Kingdom of God is better.
3) I will forgo one for a while to concentrate more intently on the other.

 

:)


« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 07:41:31 PM by Paisius »

Offline Orthophoria

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2010, 07:56:17 PM »
Don't try to follow all the rules. At least try not to eat meat, and eat a little less. Btw, the money you save is supposed to be given away as charity. Keep that.

I second that advice. A couple of things to remember: First, fasting should never be approached in a legalistic manner. There is no need to spend all your time looking at the ingredients on the food you purchase. If you're not eating meat then avoid meat, no need to freak out over some random meat byproduct. Second, we don't fast in an effort to punish ourselves or make ourselves miserable. If you are feeling miserable then you are trying to do too much. That is why the guidance of your priest is so important.

The other day I read one of the best explanation of why we fast I've ever seen. I think you may find it useful as well. The reason we fast it:

1) Food is good.
2) The Kingdom of God is better.
3) I will forgo one for a while to concentrate more intently on the other.

 

:)




Many Thanks!  That is a great quote worth remembering.  During the announcements after Liturgy today, Father made that point, although in many more words!   :D  He also said that the money that we save during the fast should be given/donated to charities, soup kitchens, or the like (which dovetailed quite well with his sermon on the Good Samaritan and who exactly is my neighbor).

Offline katherine 2001

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2010, 08:40:25 PM »
Greetings Everyone!

As a catechumen, I have not yet attempted to keep any of the Church's fasts, not even the Wednesday and Friday fasts (I am not sure if I am obligated to fast yet, and our parish priest has not really mentioned this in our catechumen classes, until now), but the Nativity Fast begins tomorrow, and last week in class Father suggested that we might attempt to keep this fast, as it is not as strict as the fast for Great Lent.  I am looking forward to doing my best to keep the fast, and have even purchased a cookbook of Lenten season recipes. 

Does anyone have any help/suggestions/advice for a first-time faster?  When during your catechumenate did you begin to observe the fasts, and is this something that was scheduled/suggested as part of your learning process, or was it something that you just decided to do when you felt the time was right?

Thanks for all your input!

In Christ,
Marcus

Talk to your priest and get his advice as to how you should keep the fast.  Since you've never fasted, he will probably start you out slowly.  As my first priest told me, you don't take up running and go right out and run a marathon. 

Offline augustin717

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 08:45:42 PM »
Chiefly avoid (olive) oil on Fridays; it damages the nous like no other meat.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 08:47:39 PM by augustin717 »

Offline Thomas

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2010, 08:51:11 PM »
One must remember that all Lenten fasts include :
1. fasting
2. prayer
3. almsgiving

As a catechumen, you are a student, a learner---it is a time to try fasting and fasting recipes, to try out a prayer rule for yourself, and start giving alms to the church and the poor. This training period can help you learn your stregnths and where you will need to go in spiritual direction with your pastor as you enter the full communion of the church. HAVE A BLESSED NATIVITY FAST!

Thomas
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Offline TheodoraElizabeth3

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2010, 11:48:48 PM »
I'd like to add what I tell every inquirer, etc., who asks:

Practically, it helps to look at the meals you already like to eat and see which ones are already fast appropriate or might be made so with a bit of tweaking (not adding cheese, for example).

The following comments cover foods that contain no meat or dairy.

It also helps to investigate the various ethnic foods. Mexican (rice and beans), Italian (pasta with a simple sauce and/or veggies), Middle Eastern (hummus with pita, lentils & rice with carmelized onions - I'm cooking this right now!, various rice, bulgar, chickpea, veggie dishes), Asian (veggie/tofu stir fries with rice). I know many people who love Indian food during fasts, but I personally have issues with some of the spices.

If you're in a cold climate, this is the perfect time to try out veggie soups and stews. Making them in the crockpot is very easy if you have one.

I often like to make a big pot of something and eat off it until it's gone (I'm single so I don't have to worry about someone else getting bored with the food!).

You can even mix things up - cook lentils, season with Mexican spices, and eat in a tortilla with salsa.

Breakfast is easy - oatmeal (with or without soy milk), cereal with soy/other non-dairy milk, bagel with peanut butter or jam.

Lunch is either leftovers from the night before or things like a peanut butter & jam sandwich or even PB with sliced bananas (rather filling, too).

If you're on the go a lot and have to get meals out, don't despair! :) Many places, even fast food such as Subway, have things you can eat. I like veggie subs, just tell the place to leave off the cheese and mayo.

Note on label reading:

As I've been told by several priests, if the package indicates in large letter on the front that meat or dairy is in the food item, don't buy it. For example: margarine that indicates it contains "sweet cream" or "beef soup." However, don't go reading the fine print ingredients list.

Depending on which jurisdiction you're in, the fasting might be a bit different. Some will allow fish on all fasting days outside of Great Lent/Dormition Fast. Ask your parish priest.

Start off easy - it's easy enough to give up meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, eat simply, and smaller portions. Try to do without snacks between meals, if you don't have a health condition that requires you to eat frequently.


Offline Russell

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 12:08:21 AM »
Keep the fast humble. 

My wife told my Non-orthodox mother about fasting on certain days and now she is always worried about what to make for us when we visit.  It does not matter how much I tell her not to worry about our fasts.
Mathe 24:36

Offline PrincessMommy

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 12:24:38 AM »
Agreeing with what others have said... I'll just add: try not to fixate on the food - it can be SUCH a distraction from prayer and almsgiving.  If you're single how much nicer for you to only have to worry about yourself. If you've got a family it does make it harder not to fixate on food, but try your best. Definitely add more prayer/Bible reading,etc. etc.  As someone said, fasting without prayer is dieting...so true.

And definitely, if at all possible, avoid at all costs telling non-Orthodox about the fast. It's just not worth the hassle in the end.  It's certainly not something you want to leave as an impression about the Orthodox faith because from the outside it looks quite legalistic and it's hard to explain that "really it isn't."   And, as the previous poster said, it can make others fret about what to feed you.   The last thing you want is to make someone else stressed about their hospitality. 

Offline TheodoraElizabeth3

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 12:38:09 AM »
Agreeing with what others have said... I'll just add: try not to fixate on the food - it can be SUCH a distraction from prayer and almsgiving.  If you're single how much nicer for you to only have to worry about yourself. If you've got a family it does make it harder not to fixate on food, but try your best. Definitely add more prayer/Bible reading,etc. etc.  As someone said, fasting without prayer is dieting...so true.

And definitely, if at all possible, avoid at all costs telling non-Orthodox about the fast. It's just not worth the hassle in the end.  It's certainly not something you want to leave as an impression about the Orthodox faith because from the outside it looks quite legalistic and it's hard to explain that "really it isn't."   And, as the previous poster said, it can make others fret about what to feed you.   The last thing you want is to make someone else stressed about their hospitality. 

My priest has said, and I definitely agree, that the Nativity Fast is actually more difficult than Great Lent for two reasons: 1) We don't have the liturgical support during the Nativity Fast that we do during Great Lent, and 2) Everyone else is having their "holiday" parties during the Nativity Fast.

Sometimes you can't avoid a party - such as if it's a mandatory work obligation or non-Orthodox family. I'll go, eat whatever they have, but trying to stay away from too much meat.

Offline Orthophoria

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2010, 08:41:07 AM »
Thank you TheodoraElizabeth3!!  The "practical" suggestions were exactly what I was looking for!  Thank you all for your suggestions; it seems kinda strange to me to hear people say that I shouldn't go "all hog" on my first fast.  It is a comfort to know that I don't have to knock myself out and get all "pharisaical" with the requirements.  Many of you suggested that I discuss this with my parish priest; as a matter of fact, I have already spoken to him during the coffee hour after Liturgy yesterday, and we are going to schedule a one-on-one meeting this week.  I will certainly discuss this issue with him (among the many other subjects that I need to discuss with him).

Have a blessed Nativity Fast one and all!

Offline quietmorning

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 09:44:06 AM »
I found that keeping my fast simple and the food available helps me to be successful.  The weekend before a fast begins, I make one big pot of cabbage vegetable soup and one big pot of veggie chili and freeze it all up in freezer containers.  I have instant rice and lots of cans of pinto beans available.  I do not do the recipe books because I don't want to really think about food during a fast, I want to think about God's things.  This came about after really not having enough healthy food available during my first extended fast.  So my word of advice here is keep it very simple, but make sure the food is there and very easily available.

Wednesday and Friday - I keep at all times dried fruit, almonds, peanut butter, minute rice, beans and lots of frozen veggies in the freezer.  I keep my fasts on a shared calendar with my hubby who is not a believer - so that he knows when I'm fasting.   

Oh. . .and I don't do the 'substitution' thing.  If I don't drink milk, I don't drink soy milk, or creamer. . .or anything that is a 'substitute' of anything else.  This doesn't help me to keep the true denial of self of the fast. . .it just weakens my resolve.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 10:33:55 AM »
A question about the Nativity Fast, is fish allowed on most days, especially the beginning few weeks?

This calendar would suggest so:

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/calendar.asp

I understand that there might different traditions, but I was kinda surprised to find how frequently fish was allowed on this calendar.

Thanks.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2010, 10:38:33 AM »
Why the OCA allegedly upholds:

Quote
While most Orthodox Christians are perhaps aware of the general rules of fasting for Great Lent, the rules for the other fasting periods are less known. During the Dormition Fast, wine and oil are allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays (and sometimes on a few feast days and vigils). During the Apostles' Fast and the Nativity Fast, the general rules are as follows (from Chapter 33 of the Typikon):

"It should be noted that in the Fast of the Holy Apostles and of the Nativity of Christ, on Tuesday and Thursday we do not eat fish, but only oil or wine. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we eat neither oil nor wine.... On Saturday and Sunday we eat fish. If there occur on Tuesday or Thursday a Saint who has a [Great] Doxology, we eat fish; if on Monday, the same; but if on Wednesday or Friday, we allow only oil and wine.... If it be a Saint who has a Vigil on Wednesday or Friday, or the Saint whose temple it is, we allow oil and wine and fish.... But from the 20th of December until the 25th, even if it be Saturday or Sunday, we do not allow fish."

http://www.oca.org/OCFasting.asp

If you know of an OCA online fasting calendar I would be interested.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 10:39:49 AM by orthonorm »
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Offline KBN1

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2010, 11:30:39 AM »
I do best when I keep things very simple, even to the point of eating mostly raw food.  I eat a lot of grapefruit and apples, green salads, avocado and alfalfa sprout sandwiches, and hummus and veggies.  It is not about being austere, but disciplined, and I am not very good at that so I need well defined parameters.  If I spend too much time on food during the fast I only end up fixating on it and then I find myself stuffing my face at the vegan Indian Buffet, still convinced that I am following the fast.  (Is Rationalization a fruit of the Spirit?)

Offline Orthophoria

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2010, 01:23:57 PM »
A question about the Nativity Fast, is fish allowed on most days, especially the beginning few weeks?

This calendar would suggest so:

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/calendar.asp

I understand that there might different traditions, but I was kinda surprised to find how frequently fish was allowed on this calendar.

Thanks.

Orthonorm - The calendar on the GOARCH site is the one that I printed off and am using as a guide; so I am proceeding with the idea that fish is OK on certain days (truth be told, I have never been much of a seafood eater, so whether or not it is allowed won't affect my fast very much!  ;D )

Many here have suggested not to fixate on the FOOD so much, so I am going to take that to heart, and concentrate mostly on the prayer and almsgiving aspects.

In Christ,
Marcus

Offline orthonorm

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2010, 01:46:45 PM »
A question about the Nativity Fast, is fish allowed on most days, especially the beginning few weeks?

This calendar would suggest so:

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/calendar.asp

I understand that there might different traditions, but I was kinda surprised to find how frequently fish was allowed on this calendar.

Thanks.

Orthonorm - The calendar on the GOARCH site is the one that I printed off and am using as a guide; so I am proceeding with the idea that fish is OK on certain days (truth be told, I have never been much of a seafood eater, so whether or not it is allowed won't affect my fast very much!  ;D )

Many here have suggested not to fixate on the FOOD so much, so I am going to take that to heart, and concentrate mostly on the prayer and almsgiving aspects.

In Christ,
Marcus

I was interested in the differences as a point of curiosity. Please correct me if I am wrong (as if I have to ask), but the OCA guidelines follow more closely with practices of the Russian tradition than Greek.

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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2010, 12:14:48 PM »
Follow the advice of your priest, first of all. But fasting is a great gift that the Church offers us, especially during the pre-Christmas madness in the secular world. When I was a catechumen, I fasted, and it was a wonderful experience, and even though I struggle, it's still a wonderful experience.
Before becoming Orthodox, I had always had the feeling that we needed something "more" from the Advent season. We seemed to rush headlong into all the busyness and distractions of the secular "Christmas" - there seemed to be no time for silence and charity and concentration on what was really going on.
In Orthodoxy, I found that opportunity. My advice? Use every tool that our Church provides to prepare you to truly celebrate the miracle of the Birth of our Lord and Savior.
I promise you won't regret it!
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2010, 12:52:21 PM »
As one Russian Orthodox priest said, "most importantly, do not eat people."
Love never fails.

Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 12:52:37 PM »
I started trying to fast when I was chrismated.  living in a non-Orthodox home, It is nearly impossible for me to avoid the fastal no-no's.  I just try to eat less.  

Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2010, 04:47:49 PM »
Greetings Everyone!

As a catechumen, I have not yet attempted to keep any of the Church's fasts, not even the Wednesday and Friday fasts (I am not sure if I am obligated to fast yet, and our parish priest has not really mentioned this in our catechumen classes, until now), but the Nativity Fast begins tomorrow, and last week in class Father suggested that we might attempt to keep this fast, as it is not as strict as the fast for Great Lent.  I am looking forward to doing my best to keep the fast, and have even purchased a cookbook of Lenten season recipes. 

Does anyone have any help/suggestions/advice for a first-time faster?  When during your catechumenate did you begin to observe the fasts, and is this something that was scheduled/suggested as part of your learning process, or was it something that you just decided to do when you felt the time was right?

Thanks for all your input!

In Christ,
Marcus

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Fasting culture is perhaps the most mystifying and yet challenging aspect of converting to the Orthodox.  The advice my Father-Confessor gave to me when I was a catechumen was to aim for the Wednesday and Friday fast days, and to gradually work my way into the full Advent or Lenten fast cycles.  After all, for converts it is not necessarily our own culture and household to fast, so it is a bit more difficult logistically even and can be overwhelming sometimes when the everyone else is not on the same page.  When the whole house or family or community is fasting together, the appropriate foods and schedules are easier available and make the introduction easier.  That being said, take it easy.

Go entirely in the Spirit.  Fasting is your personal, private and individual offering to God, as well as your private walk intimately with our Savior.  Fasting is a kind of constant prayer in the Spirit, working into the flesh and body, thus it can be rather transforming at every level, every minute of the day, as you go to work, school, housework, etc etc. Fasting brings an awareness of God into the midst of all of our mundane, routine, day-to-day events and situations.

But I personally feel that is the mystical aspect which is God's gift in return for our voluntary service, a kind of spiritual enhancement and deeper awareness of the operative power of God.  So again, go with the Spirit.  It is your gift, your service to God.  Do not worry so much about rule books, traditions, peer pressures, appearances, or any such things.  Fast as you see able and as God brings you able to complete, and let it all be honorable in His sight.

The core aim is humility and submission to the ever-present Will of God in your life, and yet also to be continually in rejoicing and prayer in the Spirit, not merely starving the body, but more so aiming to enhance the soul.


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2010, 05:40:56 PM »
Keep the fast humble. 

My wife told my Non-orthodox mother about fasting on certain days and now she is always worried about what to make for us when we visit.  It does not matter how much I tell her not to worry about our fasts.

I've found that to be the case a lot. What good does it do me or others to worry over food? When I am in a position to cook or choose, I fast. When not, I eat what is put before me with thanksgiving and humility.
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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2010, 06:18:56 PM »
I would like to know, is fish okay on any days?

Thank you.
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2010, 08:59:51 PM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Offline Father H

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2010, 09:12:30 PM »
I have the feeling we are going to be trying to digest a lot of fresh snook this season. 

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2010, 10:21:43 PM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Is that true?  Are there distinctions made between salt and fresh water fish?
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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2010, 11:53:55 PM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Mandatory? Huh?
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Offline Shlomlokh

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2010, 11:59:00 PM »
As one Russian Orthodox priest said, "most importantly, do not eat people."

I loved this! It's so true and something we forget during the fast. I know from my experience that at certain times I allow myself to forget about the fast or become grumpy. Great quote!

In Christ,
Andrew
"I will pour out my prayer unto the Lord, and to Him will I proclaim my grief; for with evils my soul is filled, and my life unto hades hath drawn nigh, and like Jonah I will pray: From corruption raise me up, O God." -Ode VI, Irmos of the Supplicatory Canon to the Theotokos

Offline Rufus

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2010, 12:03:15 AM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Mandatory? Huh?

Yes, don't you know Ephesians 11:48, which says, "They that eat not river fish shall by no means inherit the kingdom of God"??

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2010, 10:40:08 AM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Mandatory? Huh?

Yes, don't you know Ephesians 11:48, which says, "They that eat not river fish shall by no means inherit the kingdom of God"??

LOL!
The fast is a spiritual tool, a discipline. For specifics, talk to your priest or spiritual father.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2010, 11:40:43 AM »
No offense intended, but I am not sure I see the difficulty of maintaining most of the fasting rules in most of the developed world, unless you are significantly reducing your calories (which I imagine is what would have happened traditionally when "substitution" foods were not readily available).

In most developed nations, eating a low fat vegan diet (which is what the fasting rules pretty much amount to) is rather easy and know people who have eaten this way most of their lives without much struggle and even some who are overweight.

I myself have been a strict vegan for years during my life and didn't have much difficulty except for the initial longing for foods I once enjoyed but were no longer allowed in the diet.

I am guessing that much of the discipline of the fast in the past came from a reduction in calories and the monotony of foods eaten.

I live in a medium sized city in the Midwest of the US. You could maintain the fast having chocolate cake, "meat loaf", "eggs", soy "milk", ethnic foods, etc. In fact, some Orthodox I know basically just eat the same as they always do but pick their foods up from the "vegan" section of the local supermarket. Or they break their backs to create their own substitution foods.

I know people don't like to discuss these points of their "discipline", but in the developed world, it would seem that the spirit vs. the letter of the fasting rules needs to be fleshed out, so to speak, a little more.

Thoughts?

Mine as a non-Orthodox. Fasting is one of the things I found attractive in Orthodoxy.

I've fasted before for reasons similar, yet entirely different than how it is practiced in Orthodoxy as I understand it.

My general "rules" were:

No animal products.
No "rich" foods.
A few, simple foods. Inexpensive and easy to prepare. So that the time and money could spent elsewhere.
No public proclamations, whether boasting or grouching.
If being served food somewhere I was invited, I ate whatever was given but only what I was initially given.
Never eat to satiety.
Don't be afraid to "skip" meals, if able, especially breakfast.
Spend the time and money saved doing something for the reason for the fast.
Keep in mind the reason for the fast while eating and while hungering.

Really the most difficult parts where avoiding satiety, not being a grouch, the monotony of the foods eaten, and then doing something with the time and money. Among those the worst, the grouchiness and the doing something with the time and money.

There is an excellent restaurant around the corner from my house which has a ton of Lenten foods all the time. Their vegan chocolate cake would pass muster and it is probably one the single most delicious desserts I've ever had. Not to mention the dozen or incredible soups they make hand made every day of which 2/3s would be Lenten. Along with the rest of the menu, I could eat there every day "fasting" and never know the difference from how I normally eat, except I would probably be enjoying every meal more and spending more money, compared to the stuff I eat at home.

Saw the Priest at the church I attend nearly wince, when he suggested that everyone consider at least giving up meat a few days a week during the Nativity Fast.

FWIW.


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Offline KBN1

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2010, 12:14:40 PM »
No offense intended, but I am not sure I see the difficulty of maintaining most of the fasting rules in most of the developed world, unless you are significantly reducing your calories (which I imagine is what would have happened traditionally when "substitution" foods were not readily available).

In most developed nations, eating a low fat vegan diet (which is what the fasting rules pretty much amount to) is rather easy and know people who have eaten this way most of their lives without much struggle and even some who are overweight.

....

If the fast were just a change of diet, then indeed it would not be so difficult.  It is a training of the whole body though and there is a lot of ugly stuff that goes along with that.  I very rarely consume dairy and I only eat meat a couple of times a week.  No pride or judgment there--I just like vegetables better, that's all.  But every time I fast, I want ice cream and cheeseburgers.  I think I may have had 3 cheeseburgers this whole year.  Why all of a sudden do I want them so badly?  Precisely because I can't have them.  It is the deep rooted selfishness behind that desire for a cheeseburger that is also behind all of my sins that the fast aims to root out.  Apparently I don't want to release that.  That is why I find fasting difficult.

Offline orthonorm

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2010, 12:21:22 PM »
No offense intended, but I am not sure I see the difficulty of maintaining most of the fasting rules in most of the developed world, unless you are significantly reducing your calories (which I imagine is what would have happened traditionally when "substitution" foods were not readily available).

In most developed nations, eating a low fat vegan diet (which is what the fasting rules pretty much amount to) is rather easy and know people who have eaten this way most of their lives without much struggle and even some who are overweight.

....

If the fast were just a change of diet, then indeed it would not be so difficult.  It is a training of the whole body though and there is a lot of ugly stuff that goes along with that.  I very rarely consume dairy and I only eat meat a couple of times a week.  No pride or judgment there--I just like vegetables better, that's all.  But every time I fast, I want ice cream and cheeseburgers.  I think I may have had 3 cheeseburgers this whole year.  Why all of a sudden do I want them so badly?  Precisely because I can't have them.  It is the deep rooted selfishness behind that desire for a cheeseburger that is also behind all of my sins that the fast aims to root out.  Apparently I don't want to release that.  That is why I find fasting difficult.

Interesting. Thank you for your openness.
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2010, 12:25:42 PM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Is that true?  Are there distinctions made between salt and fresh water fish?

My priest explained that he was under the impression that eating fresh water fish was primarily a Slavic tradition. 
"The Scots-Irish; Brewed in Scotland, bottled in Ireland, uncorked in America."  ~Scots-Irish saying

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2010, 12:35:38 PM »
If the fast were just a change of diet, then indeed it would not be so difficult.  It is a training of the whole body though and there is a lot of ugly stuff that goes along with that.  I very rarely consume dairy and I only eat meat a couple of times a week.  No pride or judgment there--I just like vegetables better, that's all.  But every time I fast, I want ice cream and cheeseburgers.  I think I may have had 3 cheeseburgers this whole year.  Why all of a sudden do I want them so badly?  Precisely because I can't have them.  It is the deep rooted selfishness behind that desire for a cheeseburger that is also behind all of my sins that the fast aims to root out.  Apparently I don't want to release that.  That is why I find fasting difficult.

Exactly! Amen!
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2010, 12:40:12 PM »
If it's salt water fish no, if it's river water then it's mandatory.

Is that true?  Are there distinctions made between salt and fresh water fish?

My priest explained that he was under the impression that eating fresh water fish was primarily a Slavic tradition. 

So...is fish allowed (fresh or salt)?  While I've seen fish served during Lent/Nativity fast, I've understood that as a general rule fish was a no no for Great Lent...what about Nativity fast....what about Wed/Fri?

Just curious....not judgmental.


Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Offline bogdan

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2010, 01:02:47 PM »
In fact, some Orthodox I know basically just eat the same as they always do but pick their foods up from the "vegan" section of the local supermarket. Or they break their backs to create their own substitution foods.

I know people don't like to discuss these points of their "discipline", but in the developed world, it would seem that the spirit vs. the letter of the fasting rules needs to be fleshed out, so to speak, a little more.

I agree. To me, it doesn't make sense to make the same effort in preparing food, and perhaps spending even more money on food (vegan food, in my experience, is often more expensive than the "real" analogue) during the fast. The point of fasting is to be mindful and to bring our bodies under control by denying our desires. For myself, I can't claim to do that when I'm eating soy food that looks, smells, and tastes basically like cheese and meat. Maybe others can, but I admit I have a weak will when it comes to food.

So...is fish allowed (fresh or salt)?  While I've seen fish served during Lent/Nativity fast, I've understood that as a general rule fish was a no no for Great Lent...what about Nativity fast....what about Wed/Fri?

Just curious....not judgmental.

From what I understand, shellfish is allowed in all traditions. In the Slavic traditions, fish is also allowed because shellfish are not as abundant in the far north as in the Mediterranean, where the fasting rules initially developed.

Of course, nowadays we can buy every kind of food at all times of the year, so part of me hopes the bishops take another look at fasting rules at some point. Not to relax the rules, as Catholics did, but to make them more relevant to the reality of the modern world. I've heard it said that, as far as usage goes, olive oil in the 2nd century is analogous to peanut butter today, so maybe peanut butter should be off-limits during the fast.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2010, 01:12:11 PM by bogdan »

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2010, 02:34:13 PM »
...soy food that looks, smells, and tastes basically like cheese and meat

And what soy food would that be? (katherine asks, hopefully)
 ;)

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Offline bogdan

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2010, 02:55:40 PM »
...soy food that looks, smells, and tastes basically like cheese and meat

And what soy food would that be? (katherine asks, hopefully)
 ;)



Haha ;)

I've had very good vegan lasagna before, but unfortunately I didn't get the recipe. And Boca chicken patties are pretty realistic, if you suspend disbelief just a little.

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2010, 04:32:16 PM »
...soy food that looks, smells, and tastes basically like cheese and meat

And what soy food would that be? (katherine asks, hopefully)
 ;)



Haha ;)

I've had very good vegan lasagna before, but unfortunately I didn't get the recipe. And Boca chicken patties are pretty realistic, if you suspend disbelief just a little.

LOL! ;D
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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2010, 06:40:06 PM »
My grandaughter after eating  Chix patties and nuggets from soy now refuses to eat chicken at all and will only eat the Chix products on fasting days.{But Papa, its fasting food so I eat it when I fast!} My wife's favorite is the barbeques soy patties that look something like the McDonald' Mc Rib. There are those who feel that you should not substitute soy items when fasting , however it is vegetarian and thus fasting. For those who do not like the traditional fasting (Beans, rice, nuts , etc) the soy product allows them to keep the spirit of the fast without overdoing the cooking or being focussed on exotic fasting dishes. It is similar to what they eat when not fasting and thus easier to get younger children into fasting at an earlier age making fasting as an adult a common rather than occassional practice.

As I noted before, one must teach  That almsgiving and prayer go in hand with the food aspect of fasting.  I certainly agree with the Russian priest who said the main principal of fasting is "to not eat men". It certainly brings into focus the Christian life we should live all of the time but pay especial attention to  during the fasting periods of the Church.

Thomas
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Offline NanaDeborah

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #43 on: October 20, 2014, 02:00:37 PM »
Hope it's OK to resurrect this thread rather than starting a new one the same.  I have been attending an Antiochian church for a few weeks, not even a catechumen yet.  Father mentioned on Sunday that we will soon be heading into the Nativity fasting season.  This will be a real challenge.  I am thankful to see all the great comments and advice on this thread.  I realize for cradle Orthodox this should be a little easier because you just do what mom always did.  I will be starting from scratch, plus my husband is not Orthodox so I will need to keep the meat coming for him regardless of what I eat. 

I expect that what makes it harder is that in order to change what we eat, we need to think about it.  Which draws attention to it.

I will talk to Father about how I should proceed this first fasting season.  Thanks for any new thoughts anyone can add to this already great thread.
Thy Bridal Chamber, I see adorned, O my Savior, and have no wedding garment that I may enter.  Enlighten the vesture of my soul, O Giver of Light, and save me.

Offline Yurysprudentsiya

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Re: Nativity Fast
« Reply #44 on: October 20, 2014, 03:05:28 PM »
Just as general advice, I'd say speak to your priest and if he doesn't know it already, explain your situation.

The fasts and other such things in the Orthodox Church are medicines that are used to help us on to salvation.  Depending on how spiritually sick a person is, or how strong their spiritual constitution is, what might be healing medicine for one person would be a fatal overdose for another.  Likewise, what might cure one person might have no effect on a different person.

The fasting guidelines given are a sort of "ideal."  The beauty of the Orthodox Church is that these guidelines can be relaxed or enhanced for a person based upon the way their spiritual father perceives their need, and to help them on to salvation.  Your priest will prescribe the medicine that is right for you in your particular situation, and in your particular family situation, not only with fasting, but also with prayer, etc.  And as time goes on perhaps the dosages will be increased or lessened as circumstances become clear.

And do not worry about whether you are doing more or less than those around you.  Ignore that, and just make sure you are striving to do what your priest has prescribed is healing in your situation.

Above all, the greatest fast is the fast from sin.  So let our fasting from foods inspire us to increased prayer, almsgiving, awareness of, and repentance from, our sins.  If your fasting inspires you in this direction, it will be a success, no matter how it is worked out materially.

I hope that this helps you out a little bit.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2014, 03:07:46 PM by Yurysprudentsiya »