Saturday, April 6 / April 19, 2014
I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much to eat. I shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us only a single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age, illness or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: to avoid over-eating and the filling of our bellies... A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied.
—St. John Cassian, On the Eight Vices.
The feast of the Resurrection, Pascha, is the most important feast of the liturgical year. In order to prepare for this great day, the Church has appointed a time of fasting and preparation, which is called Great Lent. Great Lent begins on Clean Monday (February 18/March 3 this year), and lasts 40 days. After the 40 days, we begin Holy Week with the Feast of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.
There are five Sundays during Lent:
In addition, there are multiple other commemorations that the Church has arranged for our spiritual edification.
If you are new to fasting, or are not sure you have been doing it properly, know that the first step is to find an experienced spiritual father; a priest or monk of our Metropolis, or of one of the monasteries or parishes of our Church in Greece. Fasting is not a discipline that can be self-directed, and should be part of a balanced spiritual life including attendence at the Divine Services, private prayer at home, acts of charity, and the reading of Holy Scripture.
The general rules of Lent are simple; Monday through Friday are strict fast, when we refrain from meat, dairy, fish, olive oil, and wine. Saturday and Sunday we are permitted wine and oil. On Annunciation, we are permitted fish.
If you are elderly, very young, sickly, or new to fasting, your spiritual father may give you a rule of fasting that is less strict than that which is described here. This is because fasting is not a set of rules and regulations, but a spiritual medicine that the spiritual father, as your spiritual doctor, determines will be for your benefit, taking in to account your state in life. We should refrain from judging those who do not fast as strictly as we do, while praying that they will grow in strength to do so.
In addition, there are extra services such as the Presanctified Liturgy and the Salutations that are prayed during the weekdays of Lent, and we should make every effort to attend these.
Fasting will be of no benefit to us, however, if we do not love our neighbors more than ourselves. Fasting is a tool in our arsenal against the Evil One, but it is useless if we bite the head off of our brother.
If you are living far away from a Church and cannot attend the services during Lent, contact our missions department below for advice on how to participate as best as you can. Spiritual growth is open to you even if you live a great distance.
Finally, dear readers, we pray that you will include us in your prayers, those who prepare this site for you, that we will remain firm, crossing the Sea of the Fast, and arriving at Pascha prepared.
The Icon of Christ used in the above banner is copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, MA, and used by permission.
We are pleased to post a video chronicling the construction of the unique St Maximos the Confessor Orthodox Parish in Owego, New York, under the pastorship of Fr Thomas Marretta. This unique Church was constructed according to an ancient Byzantino-Spanish style using traditional construction techniques.
The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of America is an Old Calendar Orthodox Church serving the faithful of North and South America. Having its roots in the Diocese of Astoria, founded by Metropolitan Petros (Astyfides) in 1954, it presently consists of two Metropolises (America and Toronto) and two dioceses (Portland and Boston), shepherded by five hierarchs.
The Church of the GOC of America is an autonomous Eparchy whose hierarchs are members of the Holy Synod of the Church of the GOC of Greece, under the Presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece. We follow the Patristic (Julian) Calendar and resist the heresy of Ecumenism.
Jonesboro is a town located near the Eastern border of Arkansas, with a population of approximately 60,000. From a human standpoint, it’s not the most likely candidate for a traditional Orthodox mission, but for an Orthodox Christian who orders his priorities around Christ and His Church, it makes perfect sense. Read more...
Q. There seems to be a lot of variation in how people observe fasting, but my confessor told me to fast from oil on Wednesday and Friday. Oil is a pretty vague category, though, and I was wondering if I could get a more explicit description of what kinds of food and drink are excluded on strict fast days. Read more...