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Timon
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« on: December 08, 2011, 12:47:17 PM »

Would it be recommended for someone who is not yet in the Church to engage in the Orthodox calendar with regard to fasting?

Would participating in all of it be too much without the Eucharist and/or support of a parish?

Also, are there any resources I could read to better understand the different types of fast days? For example, can you have coffee on strict fast days? Does that literally mean you cant consume anything at all? What about oil and wine days? Does that literally mean only oil and wine?

I know these questions may sound silly, but my protestant tradition doesnt put any emphasis on fasting.  As i moved more toward anglicanism a few years ago, i fasted from meats during Lent, but thats it.  I certainly understand the spiritual benefits of fasting, and thats why I wanted to learn more about this.
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011, 01:16:21 PM »

Would it be recommended for someone who is not yet in the Church to engage in the Orthodox calendar with regard to fasting?

Would participating in all of it be too much without the Eucharist and/or support of a parish?

Also, are there any resources I could read to better understand the different types of fast days? For example, can you have coffee on strict fast days? Does that literally mean you cant consume anything at all? What about oil and wine days? Does that literally mean only oil and wine?

I know these questions may sound silly, but my protestant tradition doesnt put any emphasis on fasting.  As i moved more toward anglicanism a few years ago, i fasted from meats during Lent, but thats it.  I certainly understand the spiritual benefits of fasting, and thats why I wanted to learn more about this.

Hi!

It is generally not recommended for anyone to participate in the fasts without the guidance of a Spiritual Father. For most Orthodox Christians, this means either consulting their priest, or whomever they go to for confession.

As you've indicated in your post, it is very difficult to complete the fast without partaking of the Eucharist, as well as having the spiritual and emotional support of a parish. While monastics have been known to go off into the wilderness and perform fasts on their own, most of us don't fall into that category.

In terms of fasting guidelines, generally speaking, unless otherwise indicated on the calendar, on days of fasting, Orthodox Christians are to avoid all meat (this includes poultry), fish with a vertabrate, dairy, oil, and wine. On days marked "oil and wine," that means oil and wine are permitted. On days marked "fish," that means fish with a vertabrate are permitted. Shrimp and other types of shellfish are allowed on all fasting days. This is because when the fasting rules were written in Greece many centuries ago, shell fish were the cheapest and easiest forms of fish to get. They didn't have Maine Lobster with drawn butter in mind. Wink

Coffee, tea, and other beverages are permitted, however you have to use non-dairy creamer. Smiley

In order to learn more about the faith, I would highly recommend "The Orthodox Church" by Timothy Ware. It is available on amazon.com for about $8, or you can get it in the Kindle edition. (The Ancient Faith goes digital! Will wonders never cease?!)

I would also recommend checking out the following websites, as they are chock full of articles and good information:

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Orthodox Church in America

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA

Orthodox Christian Network

Ancient Faith Radio

May God bless you in your journey!
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2011, 01:21:18 PM »

Timon,

I added a "fasting" tag at the bottom of the page. Since the term is so frequent it doesn't help much.

You can try using this google search to search this board. I made a lazy one:

site:orthodoxchristianity.net fasting convert

I made a post on how to use google to better drill down searching for stuff around here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29398.msg464988.html#msg464988

The modifications threw off the syntax a little.

This is to help you be able to navigate around here more easily.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 01:21:51 PM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2011, 01:28:31 PM »

Quote
Would it be recommended for someone who is not yet in the Church to engage in the Orthodox calendar with regard to fasting?

No I would not recommend it, but I would not discourage it either.   Fasting is done with prayer and repentance, by itself, it is nothing more that a fad diet.

Quote
Would participating in all of it be too much without the Eucharist and/or support of a parish?

Yes, start small and work your way to more if that is what you want to do.

Quote
Also, are there any resources I could read to better understand the different types of fast days? For example, can you have coffee on strict fast days? Does that literally mean you cant consume anything at all? What about oil and wine days? Does that literally mean only oil and wine?

Here is a link to a Brochure:

Fasting.pdf
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2011, 02:02:37 PM »

if you have prayed about it and believe this is the time to start, then start small, like by avoiding meat.

'oil and wine days' (which are in the eastern orthodox fasting rules, not the oriental orthodox) means than vegan food is consumed plus oil is allowed (on strict days in the eastern orthodox churches it is vegan but no oil. not everyone manages the 'no oil' thing though). in some churches, shellfish (but not fish) are allowed on vegan days.
generally in the nativity fast there are several days that allow fish (in my coptic church we can have fish every day except wednesday and friday)

in the old days in the parts of the world that were in the eastern roman empire, wine was often quite weak and healthier than the polluted water, so it was normal for everyone to drink a little weak wine.
getting drunk in the fast on 'oil and wine days' is not being suggested!
 Wink

so it's a bit complicated, hence my advice to start simply. i started fasting before becoming orthodox, as it helped me understand more about the orthodox experience, but it should only be done as part of a prayerful life.
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2011, 02:40:08 PM »

Baptism is our death and rebirth into Christ, and the start of new life in Him. However, it is not necessarily the point at which we begin to change our lives to conform to the teachings of the Church.

If you read patristic sources on catechism and baptism/initiation you'll notice that catechumens were interrogated by the bishop before he admited them to baptism: Does he attend church, does he pray, does he keep the fasts, is he a drunkard, is he a fornicator, does he practice magic, does he take part in pagan feasts, etc.

The catechumenate, then, was not just a period of instruction in the faith, but a chance to gradually adopt a Christian way of life before your full acceptance into the Church. You're not supposed to be thrown in at the deep end.

Of course, a catechumen is not the same as a mere inquirer, the former having established a formal relationship with the Church. I don't know what stage you are at in terms of your relationship with the Orthodox Church, and you should certainly speak to someone able to discern whether you are ready for such an undertaking. Generally speaking, however, there is no reason to suggest that a person should not or cannot undertake a rule of fasting before becoming Orthodox, provided there is a discerning individual available to offer guidance.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 02:40:42 PM by Orthodox11 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2011, 02:56:16 PM »

Thanks for the replies everyone.  I have been constantly studying the church for a while now and have been attending vespers regularly.  I have not been able to attend DL as I work on sundays right now.  I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 

I have also been emailing with a priest, and have met with him in person.  I do plan on converting one day.  The reason I asked about fasting is because Im looking to participate in more church practices as well as benefit my prayer life.  I do fast, although it is mostly during Lent.  I just wanted to make sure it would be ok to begin participating with the Orthodox since I plan to become Orthodox one day. Also, I made a post a while back about how my prayer life had recently been suffering, even though not too long ago it was stronger than it had ever been.  I think this was due to the icon corner I set up, as well as doing my daily readings and learning some prayers.  I was just looking to go further and thought this may be a good way.

And I realize that fasting is very personal, so I do feel weird talking about it.  I guess the best thing would be to email or meet with my priest.
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2011, 03:20:22 PM »

Fasting/abstaining might not benefit your prayer life, so you have to be careful. Many fall into despair during fasting periods because they just don't have the will power or the energy to keep up with the fasts. Trudging through Wednesday and Friday on a normal week is maybe doable as long as you have a meaty-cheesey finish line. That immediate finish line disappears with these longer stretches. Some people on here act like this stuff is a breeze, and maybe it is for some, but others can really get frustrated with these times.

The point is, if you're going to try it out, don't get in over your head. It can actually do damage to your spiritual life in a lot of ways. It can make you angry from deprivation and malnutrition. It can make you judgmental and think that you're better than and more disciplined than others.

As others have said and as the services clearly state: The demons never eat anything, except for human souls.

So make sure if you do it that you are actually increasing your prayers and devotions, because otherwise it is simply a modified diet with very likely grouchy-to-furiously-angry side effects.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 03:22:38 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2011, 03:41:06 PM »

Thanks Alveus.

If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldnt have even posted this thread and I would have asked my priest to start off with.  Its not that I dont appreciate your responses, its just that I dont usually like to talk about this topic.  I dont think it should be publicized. I do, however, understand the purpose of fasting. I guess since I had never fasted before in the context of Orthodoxy (if that makes sense) I just wanted to see if anything was different.  I really admire the weekly Wednesday and Friday fasts.  I have wanted to participate for a while now, but I havent because I didnt know if I should.  Having these weekly practices that are a big part of your life seem to be so helpful in keeping close to the faith and to prayer.  Without it, it seems easy to drift away.  In a smilar way, having a prayer rule has been so beneficial in helping my prayer life.  I have something that has become a wonderful part of my daily routine.  (although to be honest, sometimes I slack there too Undecided )  To me, it seems that fasting would help me. I guess I was looking for guidance here when I should really contact my priest.



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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2011, 04:19:43 PM »

I understand your desire to fast. When one reads the Early Church Fathers, he realises that Christians fasted. and they fast in Orthodoxy today.

I followed the Orthodox fasting calendar long before I considered converting. However, fasting was always done in community in the Early Church. So ultimately, fasting should lead you to desire more.

Here is a good old calendar fasting schedule http://www.holytrinityorthodox.com/pcalendar/index.htm

Here is a new calendar http://www.goarch.org/chapel/calendar/

Fasting will change your spiritual life!
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2011, 06:16:15 PM »

welcome clemente!
i see you were chrismated recently, may God bless you and yr family, it is good to have you here.
timon, on the subject of whether it is the same; i felt that 'orthodox' fasting before i became orthodox was very similar to the 'protestant' fasting i had done before.
it even felt a little easier, as, for me, orthodox fasting was all about conquering thirst (e.g. abstaining from eating and drinking till 12) and i didn't even notice if i got hungry because i was so very thirsty!
whereas in protestant fasting, i had always drunk water during the fast, and just abstained from food for however many hours it was. then, i would really notice being hungry.
in both cases, i was doing it to please God and to become closer to Him, so i focused on that, and it helped me to fast.

after i became orthodox, i realised that fasting was less something i would do and feel that i had achieved something 'extra' but that it was an integral part of the orthodox Christian life, and it became more a part of Christian worship in the community and less of in individual thing. so i was encouraged because i knew other people were fasting, and that helped me to be stronger in fasting. on a few occasions, i worked with orthodox colleagues who were also fasting, and it was great to eat our baked potato and beans together (helped me ignore the non-fasting food!)

now i can fast (badly), all i need to do is pray sincerely, love my enemies, give to the poor, stop judging and criticizing others and answer everyone with kindness and patience! i think i'll have to live another 100 years at least...
 Wink
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2011, 06:24:46 PM »

Mabsoota,

Amen. Glory to God.

I share many of your experiences. Fasting is easier and more meaningful in community.
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2011, 11:07:45 PM »

Quote
This is because when the fasting rules were written in Greece many centuries ago, shell fish were the cheapest and easiest forms of fish to get. They didn't have Maine Lobster with drawn butter in mind.

I've had Octopus & Calamari at a small cafe in Thessaloniki that made Maine Lobster taste like Taco Bell Tofu Tacos.
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2011, 11:11:44 PM »

Quote
This is because when the fasting rules were written in Greece many centuries ago, shell fish were the cheapest and easiest forms of fish to get. They didn't have Maine Lobster with drawn butter in mind.

I've had Octopus & Calamari at a small cafe in Thessaloniki that made Maine Lobster taste like Taco Bell Tofu Tacos.

Well good for you.

 Huh Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2011, 11:41:35 PM »

Taco Bell makes tofu tacos?
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2011, 12:19:47 AM »

Taco Bell makes tofu tacos?

I dont know. But if they did, I wouldnt order them. I dont go to taco bell because I want to be healthy.

The regular meat spray they put on tacos tastes so good to me!
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2011, 01:17:21 AM »

Quote
This is because when the fasting rules were written in Greece many centuries ago, shell fish were the cheapest and easiest forms of fish to get. They didn't have Maine Lobster with drawn butter in mind.

I've had Octopus & Calamari at a small cafe in Thessaloniki that made Maine Lobster taste like Taco Bell Tofu Tacos.
I can understand the calamari but try as I might I cannot do the octopi thing.

Nice to see you back here, Oblio. It's been quite a while.
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2011, 11:06:25 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2011, 11:22:15 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.
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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2011, 11:32:57 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.

One of the reason's that St. John's is able to serve Liturgy daily is that their priest is not married. Not having a family to care for gives Fr. Jacob liberty that married priests don't have. 
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2011, 11:34:58 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


I actually was just looking at that the other day! I would love to come soon. Dont you have vespers every day at 4 as well?

It definitely is awesome that you have the liturgy daily.
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« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2011, 11:54:44 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.

One of the reason's that St. John's is able to serve Liturgy daily is that their priest is not married. Not having a family to care for gives Fr. Jacob liberty that married priests don't have. 

How in the world does one priest do daily liturgies given the fasting rules he must follow?
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« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2011, 11:57:41 AM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.

One of the reason's that St. John's is able to serve Liturgy daily is that their priest is not married. Not having a family to care for gives Fr. Jacob liberty that married priests don't have. 

How in the world does one priest do daily liturgies given the fasting rules he must follow?

Didnt even think about that.  Would love for someone to answer!
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« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2011, 12:01:48 PM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.

One of the reason's that St. John's is able to serve Liturgy daily is that their priest is not married. Not having a family to care for gives Fr. Jacob liberty that married priests don't have. 

Au contraire. Fr. Jacob is most certainly married and has been for many years to Matushka Rebecca, a dear friend of mine. They have two grown daughters.
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« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2011, 12:02:58 PM »

I am going to attend whenever i see a parish is having one on a day other than Sunday. 


Hi Timon - our parish, St. John the Wonderworker, has Divine Liturgy everyday. Check the website. Generally Matins is at 5:45am and Liturgy at 6:45 during the week, but when it's a major Feast Day, like St. Nicholas this past week Liturgy at 8 AM. On Saturday it's Matins 6:45 AM and Liturgy 7:35 AM


What a blessing to have Liturgy daily! And you serve Matins beforehand, as well. Quite beautiful. Does your parish serve Vespers each evening as well? Just curious.

I hope to see more parishes be able to hold services like this in the future. It's really a blessing.

One of the reason's that St. John's is able to serve Liturgy daily is that their priest is not married. Not having a family to care for gives Fr. Jacob liberty that married priests don't have. 

How in the world does one priest do daily liturgies given the fasting rules he must follow?

Didnt even think about that.  Would love for someone to answer!


You'd have to ask Father about that. I do know that he has the Bishop's permission to offer daily Liturgy.

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« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2011, 01:43:51 PM »

Another question about fasting... im sure this has been covered here before, but I didnt see it when I briefly searched.  Figured itd be quicker to ask here.

When does the fasting day begin? On a Friday fast, does it begin Thursday night at midnight? What about when it ends? If I were to fast today (friday) would It not end until tonight at midnight? The reason I ask is because I thought I heard something about the Orthodox day beginning at sunset or at vespers or something.  I could be totally wrong though...
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« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2011, 01:59:44 PM »

Taco Bell doesn't have tofu, that I've ever seen-but they do have potato tacos and bean burritos. The potato tacos have tater-tots.
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« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2011, 02:22:57 PM »

Another question about fasting... im sure this has been covered here before, but I didnt see it when I briefly searched.  Figured itd be quicker to ask here.

When does the fasting day begin? On a Friday fast, does it begin Thursday night at midnight? What about when it ends? If I were to fast today (friday) would It not end until tonight at midnight? The reason I ask is because I thought I heard something about the Orthodox day beginning at sunset or at vespers or something.  I could be totally wrong though...

This is a good question (and subject to a little bit of debate). I'll give you the Tradition as I've received it through my catachesis.

The liturgical day begins at sundown (i.e., Vespers) and so Vespers on Saturday night would be for Sunday (hence why we celebrate Vespers or Vigil on Saturday nights, it's part of our Sunday celebration!). However, the calendar day begins at midnight. So, then, we fast from midnight-to-midnight. Meaning, on a regular Wednesday/Friday fast day, I begin the fast at midnight Tuesday/Thursday night, and end it at midnight Wednesday/Friday night.

Eucharistic fasts (which are total fast...no food or drink, not even water. Smoking isn't permitted, either) have also been traditionally from midnight until the person communes. This is why Vesperal Liturgies and Pre-Sanctified Liturgies are such a feat...you're not supposed to eat or drink all day long! In modern practice, however, many priests will only require communicants to observe the Eucharistic fast for six to eight hours prior to the Liturgy.
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« Reply #28 on: December 09, 2011, 02:27:19 PM »

Gotcha.  Thats what I was thinking.  I read somewhere that some people tried to change it from midnight/midnight to vespers/vespers so that it wouldnt get in the way of peoples friday night social life!  I guess I could understand that perspective, but when you view it like that youre sort of missing the point!
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« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2011, 02:33:00 PM »

Another question about fasting... im sure this has been covered here before, but I didnt see it when I briefly searched.  Figured itd be quicker to ask here.

When does the fasting day begin? On a Friday fast, does it begin Thursday night at midnight? What about when it ends? If I were to fast today (friday) would It not end until tonight at midnight? The reason I ask is because I thought I heard something about the Orthodox day beginning at sunset or at vespers or something.  I could be totally wrong though...

This is a good question (and subject to a little bit of debate). I'll give you the Tradition as I've received it through my catachesis.

The liturgical day begins at sundown (i.e., Vespers) and so Vespers on Saturday night would be for Sunday (hence why we celebrate Vespers or Vigil on Saturday nights, it's part of our Sunday celebration!). However, the calendar day begins at midnight. So, then, we fast from midnight-to-midnight. Meaning, on a regular Wednesday/Friday fast day, I begin the fast at midnight Tuesday/Thursday night, and end it at midnight Wednesday/Friday night.

Eucharistic fasts (which are total fast...no food or drink, not even water. Smoking isn't permitted, either) have also been traditionally from midnight until the person communes. This is why Vesperal Liturgies and Pre-Sanctified Liturgies are such a feat...you're not supposed to eat or drink all day long! In modern practice, however, many priests will only require communicants to observe the Eucharistic fast for six to eight hours prior to the Liturgy.
This is my understanding as well. But with one slight difference: I find it better to fast (Wed/Fri, or other isolated days such as Jan 5) from bedtime to bedtime. This avoids the temptation to gorge at 11:30 pm and then just barely 24 hours later at 12:01. There are plenty of people who have the strength to avoid that temptation, but I know my weaknesses. I do know those who fast from Vespers to Vespers. Again, it's a personal thing that should be discussed with your priest. There are variations in how the rule is applied to make it helpful to us.
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« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2011, 02:37:12 PM »

Eucharistic fasts (which are total fast...no food or drink, not even water. Smoking isn't permitted, either) have also been traditionally from midnight until the person communes.

Just so you don't think we are totally unreasonable bunch, exceptions, of course are made for medically necessary circumstances. e.g. medication needs to be taken, diabetes, etc.

As it has been said before, the Church is a Hospital for Sinners. Just as a person consults with his/her doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program, a person should always consult with their spiritual father before beginning a fasting regiment. The Church would rather make modifications for the individual as needed, rather than try to impart a strict rule the person could not possibly follow, and see them fail in the process.
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« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2011, 02:42:45 PM »

Another question about fasting... im sure this has been covered here before, but I didnt see it when I briefly searched.  Figured itd be quicker to ask here.

When does the fasting day begin? On a Friday fast, does it begin Thursday night at midnight? What about when it ends? If I were to fast today (friday) would It not end until tonight at midnight? The reason I ask is because I thought I heard something about the Orthodox day beginning at sunset or at vespers or something.  I could be totally wrong though...

This is a good question (and subject to a little bit of debate). I'll give you the Tradition as I've received it through my catachesis.

The liturgical day begins at sundown (i.e., Vespers) and so Vespers on Saturday night would be for Sunday (hence why we celebrate Vespers or Vigil on Saturday nights, it's part of our Sunday celebration!). However, the calendar day begins at midnight. So, then, we fast from midnight-to-midnight. Meaning, on a regular Wednesday/Friday fast day, I begin the fast at midnight Tuesday/Thursday night, and end it at midnight Wednesday/Friday night.

Eucharistic fasts (which are total fast...no food or drink, not even water. Smoking isn't permitted, either) have also been traditionally from midnight until the person communes. This is why Vesperal Liturgies and Pre-Sanctified Liturgies are such a feat...you're not supposed to eat or drink all day long! In modern practice, however, many priests will only require communicants to observe the Eucharistic fast for six to eight hours prior to the Liturgy.
This is my understanding as well. But with one slight difference: I find it better to fast (Wed/Fri, or other isolated days such as Jan 5) from bedtime to bedtime. This avoids the temptation to gorge at 11:30 pm and then just barely 24 hours later at 12:01. There are plenty of people who have the strength to avoid that temptation, but I know my weaknesses. I do know those who fast from Vespers to Vespers. Again, it's a personal thing that should be discussed with your priest. There are variations in how the rule is applied to make it helpful to us.

Absolutely, very wise words! Fasting is made for man, not man for fasting. Our fasting guidelines should be discussed with our spiritual fathers/mothers. Your adaption of the rule, for example, is quite nice. I've been working third shift the last few months, and so my priest has told me not to worry so much about midnight-to-midnight fasting, since it doesn't make too much sense for my schedule.

We fast because it benefits our spirits, not because it is eternal law written in stone. We must do it in a way that is expedient for our salvation, as if it is taken on improperly it can actually cause spiritual damage, much in the same way that too much of a needed medication can cause a harmful overdose.
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« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2011, 05:17:05 PM »

I would prefer to fast from vesper to vesper, since it means my fast coincides with the prayers that are being read, but then I'd be out of sync with almost everyone around me who begin the fasting day at midnight, and so it would create far more problems than it solves.
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« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2011, 05:57:10 PM »

hmm, do u guys do lots of 24 hour strict fasts?
in my church, on a vegan fast day, a person fasts from midnight (or whatever time they sleep if it's earlier) till noon or 3pm or later if they are able and then they break their fast with vegan food. after midnight (in practice after rising the next day), they then take non vegan food if it is not a fasting day.
is this what you are discussing or is it something stricter?

we do have a stricter fast for good friday when everyone fasts till around 6pm (end of the church service) and those who break their fast do so with vegan food and then fast again for the saturday early morning liturgy. a few tough / spiritual / pain loving (delete as appropriate!) people fast right through till saturday morning (about 5 or 6 am) liturgy. this service starts around 10pm friday with many Bible readings including the whole book of revelation and concludes with a beautiful liturgy before dawn breaks.
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« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2011, 06:26:47 PM »

hmm, do u guys do lots of 24 hour strict fasts?
in my church, on a vegan fast day, a person fasts from midnight (or whatever time they sleep if it's earlier) till noon or 3pm or later if they are able and then they break their fast with vegan food. after midnight (in practice after rising the next day), they then take non vegan food if it is not a fasting day.
is this what you are discussing or is it something stricter?

we do have a stricter fast for good friday when everyone fasts till around 6pm (end of the church service) and those who break their fast do so with vegan food and then fast again for the saturday early morning liturgy. a few tough / spiritual / pain loving (delete as appropriate!) people fast right through till saturday morning (about 5 or 6 am) liturgy. this service starts around 10pm friday with many Bible readings including the whole book of revelation and concludes with a beautiful liturgy before dawn breaks.

mabsoota, based on my experience with my Coptic friends, the Eastern Orthodox Church pales in comparison to the vigor and piety of the Coptic fasts. Our version of a "strict fast" is not nearly as rigorous as the Copts.
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« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2011, 06:46:26 PM »

i see.
but we do use oil all the time (not olive oil). so we can even have chips in lent! but my God mother always just puts a small pile of chips in the middle of the table so we have to take them sparingly!
in the work canteen, i find chips keep me alive during fasts  Wink but i do occasionally try to cook stuff without oil (which i have learnt from this site!)
i am impressed when the eastern orthodox have oil free days and so occasionally, i leave my chips and peanut butter sandwiches and join in  Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: December 09, 2011, 07:03:30 PM »

mabsoota,

Coptic fasts, from what I understand, are much more strict that ours. You mention "fasting" from noon or 3pm, which is the ancient practice, is no longer kept at all by the EO that I'm aware of. Our "fasting" is really a simple abstaining of meat, dairy, wine and oil...we just say "fasting." The only true "fast" we regularly keep is the Eucharistic fast.

We also have a few "strict fast" days, such as the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Exaltation of the Cross, and the Eves of Christmas, Theophany and Pascha. Technically, I believe these days are meant to be kept as strict as a Eucharistic fast, but in practice are xerophagic, except for Pascha, which is also a Eucharistic fast for the Paschal Liturgy that night.
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« Reply #37 on: December 09, 2011, 08:58:43 PM »

i see.
but we do use oil all the time (not olive oil). so we can even have chips in lent! but my God mother always just puts a small pile of chips in the middle of the table so we have to take them sparingly!
in the work canteen, i find chips keep me alive during fasts  Wink but i do occasionally try to cook stuff without oil (which i have learnt from this site!)
i am impressed when the eastern orthodox have oil free days and so occasionally, i leave my chips and peanut butter sandwiches and join in  Smiley

A few years ago I worked with a man who was born in Egypt, and was quite a devout Coptic Orthodox Christian. As there were only 3 of us in our group, (there was another woman who was born in India and was a practicing Hindu), we would often eat lunch together.

I remember during Lent feeling like my efforts to stay vegan for forty days were nothing in comparison to his piety, as he would only allow himself water to drink during the day, and would not eat until he got home at night.

Having worked with both Muslims from Egypt and Coptic Orthodox Christians (he wasn't the only one), it seems to me that the fasting practices of one group seem to have influenced the other. I'm not sure which, but both are quiet pious and devout in their practice.

I know that during Ramadan Muslims will not eat or drink from sun-up to sun-down, and I have known Coptic Orthodox Christians who follow a similar practice during Lent.

I'm not sure if it comes from the years of being opressed by Islam, but the Coptic Orthodox Christians I have known have been some of the most devout and Christ-loving people I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. Here in Central New Jersey there is a rather large minority, and their parishes are packed to the gills on Sunday mornings! Their youth are actively engaged in parish life, and are very familiar with scripture.

I don't know what their secret ingredient is, but the Eastern Orthodox parishes in the surrounding area sure could benefit from it!

May God bless them and their devotion!
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« Reply #38 on: December 10, 2011, 02:00:07 PM »

Christians all over africa and western asia influenced muslim practice, including prostrations and fasting.
remember the jews got there first (unless of course you consider job and abel as pre judaism worshipers of God).
as for fasting, we copts try and fail to keep up with the ethiopians and eritreans, who probably do the most fasting.

but none of this matters as much as whether our hearts can 'fast' from bad thoughts and selfish impulses.
so most of us (and especially me) have a lot of work to do!
 Wink
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« Reply #39 on: December 31, 2012, 11:03:11 AM »

I'm a recent convert. I belong to a small Greek Orthodox parish in which nearly everyone but me is of Greek descent and culture.

I come from a large southern Protestant family that is very close. We share many meals together, especially on holidays.

I find it very difficult to observe the fast days without offending my family and friends. Also, my wife is not Orthodox, and although she tries to be understanding, it's difficult for her, as well.

Is it a sin, to be confessed, to fail to observe any prescribed fast days? Or is this a spiritual discipline that is recommended but not required? I asked my pastor about this, but his answer was equivocal.
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« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2012, 11:49:51 AM »

I'm a recent convert. I belong to a small Greek Orthodox parish in which nearly everyone but me is of Greek descent and culture.

I come from a large southern Protestant family that is very close. We share many meals together, especially on holidays.

I find it very difficult to observe the fast days without offending my family and friends. Also, my wife is not Orthodox, and although she tries to be understanding, it's difficult for her, as well.

Is it a sin, to be confessed, to fail to observe any prescribed fast days? Or is this a spiritual discipline that is recommended but not required? I asked my pastor about this, but his answer was equivocal.
It sounds as though your priest has little experience with converts to Orthodoxy. Consider yourself in a position to help him become accustomed to the phenomenon!

Many of us, including myself, are in much the same position as you. We do the best that we can. It isn't helpful to cause strife within the family when one purpose of the fast is to acquire spiritual disciplines to help us avoid strife! At meals that you take alone, you can follow the fasting rules. Many vegetarian dishes are acceptable, even welcomed, by others, so you can suggest some of those, at least in your own home. When invited to another's home and meat, etc, is served, take a minimal portion. Eat less. Focus on the other aspects of fasting - it's not just food - there's also prayer and almsgiving. Keep in discussion with your priest and ask for his prayers.

Also, if you are new to fasting, you will want to break into it gradually - perhaps begin by avoiding meat only, and once in a while forego dairy and fish.
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« Reply #41 on: December 31, 2012, 03:41:35 PM »

i have a few tips here:
http://tasbeha.org/content/community/index.php/topic,7779.0.html

basically start simply (no meat during major fasts) and work up - take dairy products at first and fish (even on non fish days) and include your wife in your spiritual journey.

get used to cooking (if you are not already) and try out some vegan recipes, adding non vegan stuff to her portion.
once your wife gets used to it, slowly introduce it to the family too.

make sure you pray as much as you fast!
fasting without prayer leads to hunger and grumpiness (as i have found...)
 Wink

PS welcome to the forums!
great to have u here, u will find many people like you
 Smiley
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 03:46:18 PM by mabsoota » Logged
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« Reply #42 on: January 11, 2013, 01:21:02 PM »

Disreguard.  Accidental post. 
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« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2013, 01:43:28 PM »

Peanut butter has oil? I knew it was too good to be true!!

I am new to spiritual fasting though years of (off and on) veganism and vegetarianism make it easier than it must be for someone who has never done either, especially in terms of what to actually prepare. I doubt I could fast at all if I didn't know how to prepare lentils! Bless Yiayia for that lesson!

In terms of non-diary replacements for fasts; I read an interesting article which of course I can't find now which points out that these alternatives did not exist in previous years and one can live very happily and eat most things which usually contain animal products using dairy replacements. I still drink soy milk as I doubt I would manage without turning into a very nasty person without it but it seemed worth mentioning. I am no expert by any means but it appears to me that the spirit of the fast has priority over technicalities anyway.
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« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2013, 03:12:18 PM »

Remember it's not just about fasting, without prayer it's worthless. Once you start to pay more attention to the labels and ingredients in everything, and you are worrying more about that then prayer you are missing the point. There will always be someone who fasts better than you, because the Devil does not eat at all. Fasting without prayer, is the fast of the devil.

Remember why we fast on Wed and Fri. Wed was the day Christ was betrayed, Fri was the day he was crucified. Keep that in the back of your mind and it will help you.
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