Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I've read the other topics related to smoking but two things that I didn't see come up were these:
1) People converting who smoke.
2) Catechumens who smoke and the fasts.
My family and I are becoming Catechumens next weekend. I was looking into the fast for the Nativity; when I found the guidelines on the Antiochian website, near the bottom it said that in addition to those foods mentioned, smoking was prohibited.
I do plan on speaking to my priest about this but wondered if anyone here has dealt with this personally? Either yourself or a convert you knew?
Every post in the other related threads seemed to deal with those who were not yet addicted. I am already addicted. I've been a smoker for nearly 20 years, with a 2 1/2 year period where I'd quit. How do I proceed? Is there grace by the Church for those coming in that have a 'past' (present) such as this?
I used to smoke just before coming into Divine Liturgy, and right afterwards. If I recall, I even took a cigarette break during my first Divine Liturgy, however this was because I was so overcome by the Spirit I needed to step out and reflect. Gradually I readjusted to the rhythms of Orthodox life and culture to put these kinds of American habits aside.
I didn't start Fasting until I finally quit smoking tobacco. The advice my priest gave me regarding fasting was simple, start small. Begin with the Wednesday and Friday fasting and gradually work your way into it spiritually. So after about a year of this, I was both ready to begin Fasting, to receive Baptism, and to quit smoking. I had also quit smoking gradually by the way, over a period of months I weened myself off of my addiction until I felt comfortable finishing that leap. I had quit for over a year previously, but it was a terrifying experience and I of course started again. Its been years since I smoked a cigarette now in the Grace of God. That is precisely what Fasting in the Church facilitates, a transition from live to eat towards eat to live, and smoking tobacco is definitely not part of eating to live.
I'm praying for you, from my experience, parting ways with tobacco is wild.