Here is some guidance on fasting. The Eparchy’s guidance is in bold.
As with everything I share, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. There are many different reasons why one may customize their fasting regimen including eating disorders and other medical realities.
Another very important and helpful teaching is to “keep you eyes on your own plate” and resist judging the fasting rule others are following.
It is also advised to accept any food that is offered in charity, regardless of your fasting rule. You may decide to fast more intensely the following day if you weren’t able to fast because you accepted non-fasting foods from a neighbor.
God Bless your Lenten journey!
“True fasting lies in rejecting evil, holding one’s tongue, suppressing one’s hatred, and banishing one’s lust, evil words, lying and betrayal of vows.”
-Basil the Great
More wisdom from John Chrysostom: https://www.orthodox.net/articles/true-fasting-saint-john-chrysostom.html
Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving
Remember that prayer, fasting and almsgiving are tools, given by Our Lord, to help us navigate this pilgrimage of life, but especially during the desert journeys of the fasts. They make us aware of, and able to receive, the treasures that are offered, and to avoid the hazards that are placed in our path by the evil one. The Church has reflected on these three tools over the centuries, but we find Our Lord offering them himself in the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 6:6ff).
By fasting we actually mean abstaining. In some traditions, Christians actually fast (eat nothing) until prayer at sundown (Vespers or Presanctified Divine Liturgy), but this is only recommended for those who are living at least a semi-monastic life and have the guidance of a spiritual father.
Eastern Christians traditionally abstain from meat, dairy, wine and oil for the 40 days of the Great Fast. This will be lightened on major feasts like the Annunciation and Palm and Flowery Sunday, and some lighten it on weekends. One of the reasons for abstaining from animal products is that only plants were given as food in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29). One thought is that wine and oil were carried in animal skins so they were renounced as well. Another reason is that all of these are luxuries and rarely consumed by the poor in any season. Another tradition allows shellfish b/c some ancient cultures considered these bugs and not animals.
Our Eparchy’s guidance, reflecting the minimal requirement:
“-STRICT ABSTINENCE: observed on the FIRST DAY OF LENT and on GOOD FRIDAY. The law of strict abstinence forbids the use of meat, eggs, and dairy products. The law of strict abstinence binds those who are between 21-59 years old
-ABSTINENCE No use of meat, permitting the use of eggs and dairy products. Abstinence is to be observed on all Wednesdays and Fridays during the Great Fast.”
Why do we fast?
-Jesus tells us to: (Matthew 6:16ff, Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:20, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 14:23)
-It’s effective: (Matthew 17:21)
-The Church, the Bride of Christ asks us to: (See above)
-Eating only vegetables is the food of paradise: (Se above)
-Anticipation of the Resurrection: While fasting, our bodies yearn for food while our souls yearn for a Savior. We will feast on Pascha! (Easter)
-Penance: This is a season of repentance and sorrow for our sins. We voluntarily refrain from the finer things (we don’t deserve them), and then enjoy them when we receive redemption at the Resurrection.
-Solidarity with the poor: We choose to be hungry because there are many who are victims of hunger.
-Growth in Virtue through asceticism (prayer, fasting and almsgiving): By engaging in smaller and easier sacrifices, we will grow in the ability to make larger sacrifices and resist even greater temptations.
Friday, March 4 –