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Author Topic: Ancient/Original Fasting Practices  (Read 1556 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: March 05, 2014, 01:30:38 AM »

As I understand it, the traditional Jewish practice for fasting which our tradition comes out of was to fast from sunrise to sunset, only taking food after the sun went down.
Abstaining from select foods vs. total abstinence is also attested both in Judaism and early Christianity; forgive me for providing just a few select examples...

"On some occasions, the fast was not a total one, but people refrained only from meat, wine, anointment with oil, and other pleasures (Cowley, Aramaic, no. 30; Dan. 10:3; Test. Patr., Reu. 1:10; Judah 15:4; iv Ezra 9:24; as well as generally in talmudic literature and in that of the Middle Ages)."  "Jewish Holidays: Fasting & Fast DaysEncyclopaedia Judaica (2008)  https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/fasting.html

Tertullian regarded the prohibition not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be the first commanded fast; Jewish Kosher laws also constituted a sort of fast. De jejunio (or De ieiunio), "On Fasting" (c. 208 AD). "According to Tertullian, God allowed a widening of allowable foods after the flood, because man had proven himself unable to keep even the lightest commands. The law of Moses then restricted more food usage, as God revealed to his people, whom he was restoring, more of the nature of their need for abstinence... As evidence for xerophagies, he cites Daniel and his friends abstaining from wine, as well as Paul’s instruction to Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach (1 Tim 5:23)" https://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-3-fasting-through-patristic-era

Shepherd of Hermas/Book III Simultude V Chapter III "in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord. If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God."

St. Basil, About Fasting, Sermons 1 and 2 "Basil requires complete abstinence from all that is harmful, but as food needs differ from person to person, much latitude is allowed. But the stomach should not be full, and eating should be for necessity and not for pleasure. Monks should eat as little as possible to get by, and be satisfied with water to drink (Longer Rules 19)... Unfortunately they are not readily available in English, and so a fresh translation has been undertaken, and can be found in the appendix. These English translations will be referred to as About Fasting 1 and 2. " “Fasting is as old as mankind itself. It was given as a law in paradise. The first commandment Adam received was: ‘From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat.’ Now this command, ‘do not eat,’ is the divine law of fasting and temperance.”352 Abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a command to Adam and Eve to fast, before sin ever entered the human race. Humanity could have been like the angels, partakers of divinity. But with their failure to keep the appointed fast came the curse of pain and toil, and Basil quips: “If Eve had fasted from the tree, we would not have to keep this fast now.353 Biblical Examples of Fasting. Basil engages a good deal in what Musurillo referred to as citing “exempla,” characters from sacred history that are used to illustrate the desired fasting principles, positively or negatively.356 Noah, although he got drunk, is excused, because he was ignorant of the potency of wine, and after the great flood man’s food regimen was altered away from the ideals of paradise. Moses fasted forty days and received the divine law, but it was for naught, as the people ruined the results of this fast with one night of drunken debauchery.357 Esau threw away his birthright for a single meal, the glutton! By contrast, Hannah conceived the prophet Samuel because of fasting. Likewise Samson’s parents conceived him in fasting, and he was nurtured to manhood and great strength through fasting regimens of the Nazirites. Elijah received his beatific vision of God after fasting, and he and Elisha performed great exploits related to their fasting and austere lifestyles. The three Hebrew children escaped the fiery furnace because fasting had turned their bodies into inflammable substances.358 Likewise, lions could not eat Daniel, because they “weren’t able to sink their teeth into him. Fasting is like sharpening the edges of a man by dipping his body in iron—it makes him tougher than lions! They couldn’t open their mouths against the saint.” So “when he was thrown down in their den, he taught the lions to fast!”359 -op cit  https://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-3-fasting-through-patristic-era

An example of reduction from select vs. total abstinence from the Apostolic Constitutions:
"Do you therefore fast on the days of the passover, beginning from the second day of the week until the preparation, and the Sabbath, six days, making use of only bread, and salt, and herbs, and water for your drink; but do you abstain on these days from wine and flesh, for they are days of lamentation and not of feasting.... Therefore, after you have kept the festival of Pentecost, keep one week more festival, and after that fast; for it is reasonable to rejoice for the gift of God, and to fast after that relaxation: for both Moses and Elijah fasted forty days, and Daniel for "three weeks of days did not eat desirable bread, and flesh and wine did not enter into his mouth." And blessed Hannah, when she asked for Samuel, said: "I have not drunk wine nor strong drink, and I pour out my soul before the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:15 And the Ninevites, when they fasted three days and three nights, Jonah 3:5 escaped the execution of wrath. And Esther, and Mordecai, and Judith, by fasting, escaped the insurrection of the ungodly Holofernes and Haman. And David says: "My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh fails for want of oil." -Apostolic Constitutions http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/07155.htm

« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 01:34:20 AM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: March 05, 2014, 11:37:49 AM »

Here is a good explanation of the fasting rules from St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/exo_fasting.aspx

Goodness, this sounds severe! I feel as though Orthodox today don't generally keep the fasts anywhere near this strictly as 1000 years ago.
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« Reply #47 on: March 05, 2014, 12:11:19 PM »

Here is a good explanation of the fasting rules from St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/exo_fasting.aspx

Goodness, this sounds severe! I feel as though Orthodox today don't generally keep the fasts anywhere near this strictly as 1000 years ago.

St. Nikodemos reposed just over 200 years ago.  Many Orthodox still do keep the traditional fasts, but it is true that those of us who care more for the flesh than the spirit try to convince ourselves and others that fasting is simply eating different foods with no reduction in quantity, no hunger, and no struggle.  How much power our prayers would gain if we truly fasted, how much strength we would find against the passions, how much we would come to truly love Christ, how much we would feel ourselves to be in communion with the saints, and what a great force our Orthodoxy would become in this world!
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« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2014, 12:32:02 PM »

I think it's pretty telling that in receiving instructions on how to fast in Orthodoxy I was never told simply not to eat food or drink anything for a certain amount of time each day (be it until the 9th hour or sundown or whatever). It was always about replacement of food and at most reducing quantities.

If we're eating chocalate cake made with egg substitute and broiling lobster all day we're missing out.
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« Reply #49 on: March 05, 2014, 12:35:53 PM »

are these two items likely to be found at a 'fast-food' joint?
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« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2014, 12:38:49 PM »

are these two items likely to be found at a 'fast-food' joint?

Fast food joints in Greece have Lenten menus. Just sayin'...
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« Reply #51 on: March 05, 2014, 12:41:07 PM »

Really?
How strange!!!
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« Reply #52 on: March 05, 2014, 12:42:24 PM »

OH!

I thought you said 'Latin' menus laugh
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« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2014, 12:42:46 PM »

I have never encountered an explanation for why the traditional fasting cycle doesn't follow the liturgical cycle: i.e. the liturgical day begins with Vespers the previous evening, but if it's a fast day, the fast doesn't begin till after midnight and ends the following midnight, after Vespers for the following day, which is not a fast day (outside of Lent).

Would you say that the reason we don't fast from Vespers to Vespers is because of preparation for the Liturgy? The idea would be that, after Vespers on Friday, we are still in preparation for Liturgy on Saturday, so it would be improper to go all out and start eating meat, so instead we break our total fast from food and drink with dry foods and water. Of course, this implies a monastic situation where you attend Liturgy every day, but this might be the reason the general practice is to fast from midnight to midnight.
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« Reply #54 on: March 05, 2014, 01:09:21 PM »

I think it's pretty telling that in receiving instructions on how to fast in Orthodoxy I was never told simply not to eat food or drink anything for a certain amount of time each day (be it until the 9th hour or sundown or whatever). It was always about replacement of food and at most reducing quantities.

Even the most lax instruction on fasting in my jurisdiction is "do not eat or drink before noon, and afterwards eat simple vegetarian meals".  In other words, it's still more rigourous than the average EO in the US.  But really, this is not rigour. 
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« Reply #55 on: March 05, 2014, 01:16:04 PM »

Would you say that the reason we don't fast from Vespers to Vespers is because of preparation for the Liturgy? The idea would be that, after Vespers on Friday, we are still in preparation for Liturgy on Saturday, so it would be improper to go all out and start eating meat, so instead we break our total fast from food and drink with dry foods and water. Of course, this implies a monastic situation where you attend Liturgy every day, but this might be the reason the general practice is to fast from midnight to midnight.

The problem with this, IMO, is that it presumes one must keep vegan the night before Liturgy, and that is not a universal rule or custom. 

The best explanation I've heard isthat, while the Church measures time from Vespers to Vespers, people generally measure time from morning to morning.  If you followed a Vespers to Vespers fasting regimen, and ate meat at every meal at which you could without violating the fast, the average guy would "eat meat every day", whether three times a day, or twice a day, or only once.  If you follow a morning to morning (i.e., midnight to midnight) regimen, however, there are always two days in the week in which you "don't eat meat at all".  In terms of quantity, both methods are the same, but the latter is more noticeable than the former. 
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« Reply #56 on: March 05, 2014, 01:19:26 PM »

I think it's pretty telling that in receiving instructions on how to fast in Orthodoxy I was never told simply not to eat food or drink anything for a certain amount of time each day (be it until the 9th hour or sundown or whatever). It was always about replacement of food and at most reducing quantities.

Even the most lax instruction on fasting in my jurisdiction is "do not eat or drink before noon, and afterwards eat simple vegetarian meals".  In other words, it's still more rigourous than the average EO in the US.  But really, this is not rigour. 

Once I actually raised this question with my spiritual father and was told explicitly to eat the normal meals at the normal times, but just avoid the non-fasting foods. I was only a recent convert at the time, though. Since fasting is private to a large extent, I don't actually know how many people in my church keep the canonical fast, but my impression is this is rarely practiced and most churchgoers don't even know about the "ninth hour" rule. I wouldn't be surprised if many clergy didn't know about it, either.
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« Reply #57 on: March 05, 2014, 01:24:36 PM »

Would you say that the reason we don't fast from Vespers to Vespers is because of preparation for the Liturgy? The idea would be that, after Vespers on Friday, we are still in preparation for Liturgy on Saturday, so it would be improper to go all out and start eating meat, so instead we break our total fast from food and drink with dry foods and water. Of course, this implies a monastic situation where you attend Liturgy every day, but this might be the reason the general practice is to fast from midnight to midnight.

The problem with this, IMO, is that it presumes one must keep vegan the night before Liturgy, and that is not a universal rule or custom. 

The best explanation I've heard isthat, while the Church measures time from Vespers to Vespers, people generally measure time from morning to morning.  If you followed a Vespers to Vespers fasting regimen, and ate meat at every meal at which you could without violating the fast, the average guy would "eat meat every day", whether three times a day, or twice a day, or only once.  If you follow a morning to morning (i.e., midnight to midnight) regimen, however, there are always two days in the week in which you "don't eat meat at all".  In terms of quantity, both methods are the same, but the latter is more noticeable than the former. 

You have a point and your explanation makes sense. I'm interested if there is any record of Vespers-to-Vespers fasting in the history of the Church, or if this is just well-intentioned but misguided renovationism. If the latter, I'm still interested in why the Church doesn't synchronize the fasting and liturgical cycles.

I just came across this:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/fast_timing.aspx

I haven't read it all the way through yet, but there's a promise of an explanation!
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« Reply #58 on: March 05, 2014, 01:26:54 PM »

Here is a good explanation of the fasting rules from St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/exo_fasting.aspx

Goodness, this sounds severe! I feel as though Orthodox today don't generally keep the fasts anywhere near this strictly as 1000 years ago.

St. Nikodemos reposed just over 200 years ago.  Many Orthodox still do keep the traditional fasts, but it is true that those of us who care more for the flesh than the spirit try to convince ourselves and others that fasting is simply eating different foods with no reduction in quantity, no hunger, and no struggle.  How much power our prayers would gain if we truly fasted, how much strength we would find against the passions, how much we would come to truly love Christ, how much we would feel ourselves to be in communion with the saints, and what a great force our Orthodoxy would become in this world!

I appreciated that link.  For the most part, I feel we have become more lax with regards to the physical aspect of fasting.  Still, I can't help but feel that there is some fundamental cultural shift that has played a part in this.  

For example, most of us Orthodox today have access to food in it's abundance.  Centuries upon centuries ago, we weren't surrounded with eateries and didn't have cupboards and refrigerators filled with food.  Perhaps it was easier to abstain when food was more scarce.  On the other hand, one could make the argument that we need to abstain even more these days because of our excess.  Both could be true, I suppose.
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« Reply #59 on: March 05, 2014, 01:47:40 PM »

Would you say that the reason we don't fast from Vespers to Vespers is because of preparation for the Liturgy? The idea would be that, after Vespers on Friday, we are still in preparation for Liturgy on Saturday, so it would be improper to go all out and start eating meat, so instead we break our total fast from food and drink with dry foods and water. Of course, this implies a monastic situation where you attend Liturgy every day, but this might be the reason the general practice is to fast from midnight to midnight.

The problem with this, IMO, is that it presumes one must keep vegan the night before Liturgy, and that is not a universal rule or custom. 

The best explanation I've heard isthat, while the Church measures time from Vespers to Vespers, people generally measure time from morning to morning.  If you followed a Vespers to Vespers fasting regimen, and ate meat at every meal at which you could without violating the fast, the average guy would "eat meat every day", whether three times a day, or twice a day, or only once.  If you follow a morning to morning (i.e., midnight to midnight) regimen, however, there are always two days in the week in which you "don't eat meat at all".  In terms of quantity, both methods are the same, but the latter is more noticeable than the former. 

You have a point and your explanation makes sense. I'm interested if there is any record of Vespers-to-Vespers fasting in the history of the Church, or if this is just well-intentioned but misguided renovationism. If the latter, I'm still interested in why the Church doesn't synchronize the fasting and liturgical cycles.

I just came across this:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/fast_timing.aspx

I haven't read it all the way through yet, but there's a promise of an explanation!

OK the article confirms what I suspected: that the midnight-to-midnight custom is authentic and is related to the Eucharistic cycle.

Quote
Among the ascetic fathers it was the practice on weekdays not to eat until the ninth hour of the day, three o'clock in the afternoon. This practice is still kept during the Great Lent in some monasteries and indeed among many lay people. A liturgical "reminder" of this is the fact that, during the Great Fast, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served; it is a Vespers service and during it the Holy Mysteries are imparted to the Faithful, who are therefore completely abstaining from food. They eat on that day therefore after Vespers*. A further hint is that in some, admittedly rather clumsy, translations of the services, Compline is referred to as the After-Supper Service. This sounds odd and rather humorous, but it is an exact translation of the Greek and Slavonic words for the service and does indicate to us that the meal of that day properly comes after Vespers and before Compline. The only other possible interpretation of this practice, the idea that we are doing this so as to begin the day with a good meal, would be something completely surprising to the ascetic fathers!

If we remember the Eucharistic significance of the fast; then we know that in preparation for receiving the Holy Mysteries, we fast from all foods and all drink from midnight before the Liturgy (whether it be a morning or evening one), during which we partake of the Mysteries. The Eucharistic fast begins at midnight. Of course usually it ends in the morning, because the Divine Liturgy is properly celebrated at the third hour of the day (9 a.m.), but it is permitted that it be served at any time between dawn and midday. However, some Liturgies, the Presanctified and those on the eves of certain festivals or on Great Thursday, are appointed to be celebrated with Vespers—the fast (complete abstinence) is then broken after Vespers, and so what we eat for that day is eaten after Vespers—it is not a meal that pertains to the following day for, if that were the case, we would have had a meal before the Eucharist itself on that (second) day. Our Eucharistic fasting discipline is not something totally eccentric and wholly disconnected to the fasting regime which runs throughout the year. Indeed the latter in part is a preparation for the reception of the Eucharist, and so the two disciplines are concurrent. Were one to keep the Vespers-to-Vespers day for fasting, one would find that one's weekly fasting discipline would be out of kilter with one's Eucharistic fasting discipline.
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« Reply #60 on: March 05, 2014, 05:07:12 PM »

Even the most lax instruction on fasting in my jurisdiction is "do not eat or drink before noon, and afterwards eat simple vegetarian meals".  In other words, it's still more rigourous than the average EO in the US.  But really, this is not rigour.

For many people to not eat any meat or dairy for them is quite a huge change and very rigorous. We can't judge what requires great effort for some.
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« Reply #61 on: March 05, 2014, 05:08:33 PM »

Would you say that the reason we don't fast from Vespers to Vespers is because of preparation for the Liturgy? The idea would be that, after Vespers on Friday, we are still in preparation for Liturgy on Saturday, so it would be improper to go all out and start eating meat, so instead we break our total fast from food and drink with dry foods and water. Of course, this implies a monastic situation where you attend Liturgy every day, but this might be the reason the general practice is to fast from midnight to midnight.

The problem with this, IMO, is that it presumes one must keep vegan the night before Liturgy, and that is not a universal rule or custom. 

The best explanation I've heard isthat, while the Church measures time from Vespers to Vespers, people generally measure time from morning to morning.  If you followed a Vespers to Vespers fasting regimen, and ate meat at every meal at which you could without violating the fast, the average guy would "eat meat every day", whether three times a day, or twice a day, or only once.  If you follow a morning to morning (i.e., midnight to midnight) regimen, however, there are always two days in the week in which you "don't eat meat at all".  In terms of quantity, both methods are the same, but the latter is more noticeable than the former. 

You have a point and your explanation makes sense. I'm interested if there is any record of Vespers-to-Vespers fasting in the history of the Church, or if this is just well-intentioned but misguided renovationism. If the latter, I'm still interested in why the Church doesn't synchronize the fasting and liturgical cycles.

I just came across this:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/fast_timing.aspx

I haven't read it all the way through yet, but there's a promise of an explanation!
I believe that the Church of Poland does, from what I remember of Mical saying
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« Reply #62 on: March 05, 2014, 05:14:54 PM »

Quote
Among the ascetic fathers it was the practice on weekdays not to eat until the ninth hour of the day, three o'clock in the afternoon. This practice is still kept during the Great Lent in some monasteries and indeed among many lay people. A liturgical "reminder" of this is the fact that, during the Great Fast, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served; it is a Vespers service and during it the Holy Mysteries are imparted to the Faithful, who are therefore completely abstaining from food. They eat on that day therefore after Vespers*. A further hint is that in some, admittedly rather clumsy, translations of the services, Compline is referred to as the After-Supper Service. This sounds odd and rather humorous, but it is an exact translation of the Greek and Slavonic words for the service and does indicate to us that the meal of that day properly comes after Vespers and before Compline. The only other possible interpretation of this practice, the idea that we are doing this so as to begin the day with a good meal, would be something completely surprising to the ascetic fathers!

If we remember the Eucharistic significance of the fast; then we know that in preparation for receiving the Holy Mysteries, we fast from all foods and all drink from midnight before the Liturgy (whether it be a morning or evening one), during which we partake of the Mysteries. The Eucharistic fast begins at midnight. Of course usually it ends in the morning, because the Divine Liturgy is properly celebrated at the third hour of the day (9 a.m.), but it is permitted that it be served at any time between dawn and midday. However, some Liturgies, the Presanctified and those on the eves of certain festivals or on Great Thursday, are appointed to be celebrated with Vespers—the fast (complete abstinence) is then broken after Vespers, and so what we eat for that day is eaten after Vespers—it is not a meal that pertains to the following day for, if that were the case, we would have had a meal before the Eucharist itself on that (second) day. Our Eucharistic fasting discipline is not something totally eccentric and wholly disconnected to the fasting regime which runs throughout the year. Indeed the latter in part is a preparation for the reception of the Eucharist, and so the two disciplines are concurrent. Were one to keep the Vespers-to-Vespers day for fasting, one would find that one's weekly fasting discipline would be out of kilter with one's Eucharistic fasting discipline.

I have read this probably five times and still don't understand the point the article is trying to make. How does fasting until Vespers bring it out of sync with a Eucharistic fast? Eucharistic fast is always no food and water, but the meal after a liturgy can be broken with vegan food as we do during Lent. What am I missing?
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« Reply #63 on: March 05, 2014, 05:27:00 PM »

Quote
Among the ascetic fathers it was the practice on weekdays not to eat until the ninth hour of the day, three o'clock in the afternoon. This practice is still kept during the Great Lent in some monasteries and indeed among many lay people. A liturgical "reminder" of this is the fact that, during the Great Fast, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served; it is a Vespers service and during it the Holy Mysteries are imparted to the Faithful, who are therefore completely abstaining from food. They eat on that day therefore after Vespers*. A further hint is that in some, admittedly rather clumsy, translations of the services, Compline is referred to as the After-Supper Service. This sounds odd and rather humorous, but it is an exact translation of the Greek and Slavonic words for the service and does indicate to us that the meal of that day properly comes after Vespers and before Compline. The only other possible interpretation of this practice, the idea that we are doing this so as to begin the day with a good meal, would be something completely surprising to the ascetic fathers!

If we remember the Eucharistic significance of the fast; then we know that in preparation for receiving the Holy Mysteries, we fast from all foods and all drink from midnight before the Liturgy (whether it be a morning or evening one), during which we partake of the Mysteries. The Eucharistic fast begins at midnight. Of course usually it ends in the morning, because the Divine Liturgy is properly celebrated at the third hour of the day (9 a.m.), but it is permitted that it be served at any time between dawn and midday. However, some Liturgies, the Presanctified and those on the eves of certain festivals or on Great Thursday, are appointed to be celebrated with Vespers—the fast (complete abstinence) is then broken after Vespers, and so what we eat for that day is eaten after Vespers—it is not a meal that pertains to the following day for, if that were the case, we would have had a meal before the Eucharist itself on that (second) day. Our Eucharistic fasting discipline is not something totally eccentric and wholly disconnected to the fasting regime which runs throughout the year. Indeed the latter in part is a preparation for the reception of the Eucharist, and so the two disciplines are concurrent. Were one to keep the Vespers-to-Vespers day for fasting, one would find that one's weekly fasting discipline would be out of kilter with one's Eucharistic fasting discipline.

I have read this probably five times and still don't understand the point the article is trying to make. How does fasting until Vespers bring it out of sync with a Eucharistic fast? Eucharistic fast is always no food and water, but the meal after a liturgy can be broken with vegan food as we do during Lent. What am I missing?

I think what the author means is that, based on the custom of keeping a total fast from midnight until after the evening liturgy of that day, we can infer that the time after evening is considered in some sense part of that same day. Another thing, which the author doesn't mention, is that there is a ban on celebrating two liturgies on the same day, but sometimes we do celebrate two liturgies during the same daily liturgical cycle, e.g. the Liturgy of St Basil after Vespers on Great Saturday, and then the Paschal Liturgy after Matins, which both occur on the day of Pascha, at least if we go by the Vespers-to-Vespers rule. So it is not entirely true that Vespers always marks the beginning of a new day, liturgically speaking.
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« Reply #64 on: March 05, 2014, 08:26:02 PM »

Even the most lax instruction on fasting in my jurisdiction is "do not eat or drink before noon, and afterwards eat simple vegetarian meals".  In other words, it's still more rigourous than the average EO in the US.  But really, this is not rigour.

For many people to not eat any meat or dairy for them is quite a huge change and very rigorous. We can't judge what requires great effort for some.

True enough.  I had in mind more the "fast" than the "abstinence"...whether they are vegans throughout the year or hardcore carnivores, most people I know skip breakfast as a matter of course, so I don't see this necessarily as an ascetic achievement; nevertheless, for many, it is the beginning. 
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« Reply #65 on: March 05, 2014, 10:11:34 PM »

I had always understood the traditional cycle to be from vespers to vespers. It never made sense to me that Orthodox separate the spiritual and temporal aspects of things (e.g. celebrating vespers for a Saint on Wednesday evening and afterwards still abstaining). Are we in America just different or does the rest of the Orthodox world fast from 12 am to 12 am?

In the Syriac tradition, fasting is from Vespers to Vespers, but I think ours is the only tradition actually to do this.  Everyone else seems to observe fasts from midnight to midnight, and there are different reasons given.  Some Coptic friends told me that their tradition is the same as the Syrians, but most follow the midnight time frame for convenience.  Others, particularly EO, say that the "fasting cycle" is different from the "liturgical cycle".  For instance, the Eucharistic fast doesn't begin right before Vespers, but at midnight of the day on which one will commune.
Although I'm not sure of the prevalence of this within the EO communion, my spiritual father and his family follow the fasting cycle from sundown to sundown. He has told me I can observe either, so long as I stick strictly to one or the other.
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« Reply #66 on: March 06, 2014, 01:54:29 AM »

Although I'm not sure of the prevalence of this within the EO communion, my spiritual father and his family follow the fasting cycle from sundown to sundown. He has told me I can observe either, so long as I stick strictly to one or the other.

This is the key point. 

Personally, I prefer midnight to midnight rather than evening to evening, even though the latter is the practice of my jurisdiction.  But we do it consistently: most people who keep the fasts know to begin on Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm...they don't start at 11pm on Tuesday and end at 4pm on Wednesday or something weird like that. 
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« Reply #67 on: March 06, 2014, 08:34:35 AM »

Although I'm not sure of the prevalence of this within the EO communion, my spiritual father and his family follow the fasting cycle from sundown to sundown. He has told me I can observe either, so long as I stick strictly to one or the other.

This is the key point. 

Personally, I prefer midnight to midnight rather than evening to evening, even though the latter is the practice of my jurisdiction.  But we do it consistently: most people who keep the fasts know to begin on Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm...they don't start at 11pm on Tuesday and end at 4pm on Wednesday or something weird like that. 
But if we keep count this way, do we also then begin the Communion fast starting at 6pm, the beginning of the day?
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« Reply #68 on: March 06, 2014, 10:47:22 AM »

But if we keep count this way, do we also then begin the Communion fast starting at 6pm, the beginning of the day?

No, because the Eucharistic fast is not for "the day" but for the Eucharist.  For example, the Church's tradition does not allow for fasting on Sundays because of the joy of the Resurrection; nevertheless, we fast before Communion on Sunday because it is part of our preparation for Communion.  It's not a penitential fast, so to speak, but a preparatory one. 

The seasonal and weekly fasting days of the Church, however, are more penitential in nature.  They apply to days, even if the reception of Communion occurs on them.  Whether or not I received Communion yesterday, I still wouldn't be able to eat a hamburger.   

Personally, I find "midnight to midnight" to work best in my circumstances, so that's what I do, but it's not my jurisdiction's typical practice.  Nevertheless, no one who practices "Vespers to Vespers" fasting in my Church finds it to clash significantly with Eucharistic fasting.   
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