St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Fasting

The Canonical Fasting Days:

On Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, we observed the traditional Orthodox fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and oil), except during the 5 canonically appointed fast-free or moderated-fast periods. During these times you are free to eat anything you wish, even on Wednesdays and Fridays, except as noted:

  • From December 25th through January 4th (no restrictions);
  • The week following the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (no restrictions);
  • The week following Meatfare Sunday (moderated fast. We abstain from meat, but may eat other foods on all days of the week);
  • The week following Pascha (no restrictions);
  • The week following Pentecost (no restrictions).


Traditional Fasting Guidelines:

There are 4 canonically appointed fasting seasons in the liturgical year. Here are the general rules in regard to your fast during these times.

 

The Purpose of Fasting

The purpose of fasting is to focus on the things that are above, the Kingdom of God . It is a means of putting on virtue in reality, here and now. Through it we are freed from dependence on worldly things. We fast faithfully and in secret, not judging others, and not holding ourselves up as an example.

  • Fasting in itself is not a means of pleasing God. Fasting is not a punishment for our sins. Nor is fasting a means of suffering and pain to be undertaken as some kind of atonement. Christ already redeemed us on His Cross. Salvation is a gift from God that is not bought by our hunger or thirst.
  • We fast to be delivered from carnal passions so that God's gift of Salvation may bear fruit in us.
  • We fast and turn our eyes toward God in His Holy Church. Fasting and prayer go together.
  • Fasting is not irrelevant. Fasting is not obsolete, and it is not something for someone else. Fasting is from God, for us, right here and right now.
  • Most of all, we should not devour each other. We ask God to “set a watch and keep the door of our lips.”
  • Remember also that Great Lent is a time of holy silence to free us from useless noise and distraction. Therefore, we abstain from frivolous entertain and unnecessary talking or chatter as well.

 

Do Not Fast

  • The week following Pascha;
  • The week following Pentecost;
  • If you are pregnant or nursing a newborn;
  • During serious illness;
  • Without prayer;
  • Without alms-giving;
  • Without confession;
  • According to your own will without guidance from your priest (and spiritual father).
Great Lent

Great and Holy Lent is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. We observe the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine and oil) during the Great Fast which lasts from Pure Monday through Great and Holy Saturday. There is dispensation for wine and oil on Saturdays and Sundays. The only except to that is on Great and Holy Saturday when oil is not permitted. Fish, wine and oil are permitted on the Annunciation (March 25) and Palm Sunday. Here are the general guidelines:

Meat

Dairy

Fish

Wine

Oil

beef, chicken, pork, turkey, elk, lamb, deer, rabbit, etc.

milk, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so forth

fish with a backbone (not including shrimp, octopus, shellfish, squid, or other seafood.

(some include all types of alcohol in this category)

(some include all types of oil in this category)

Abstain.

Abstain.

Abstain.
Fish is permitted on the Annunciation, which is March 25, and on Palm Sunday.

Permitted
on Saturdays & Sundays, on the Annunciation, and on Great Thursday.

Permitted
on Saturdays & Sundays, on the Annunciation, on Great Thursday, but not on Great Saturday.


Total Abstinence from all food and drink (except water and herbal teas, if hydration is absolutely necessary) is traditionally observed on the first three days of Great Lent and from Great Friday until Pascha. The Eucharistic Fast is total abstinence at least from the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy or following a light breakfast for communing at an evening Liturgy. For an Evening Divine Liturgy, we fast completely (from marital relations, smoking, food, and drink) usually from noon until Holy Communion is received.

The Apostles Fast

The Apostles Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. Like the Nativity fast, the Apostles fast is more lenient. The length of the fast varies from year to year, depending on the date of Pascha and the ensuing 40 day celebration of the resurrection. The Church does not abbreviate the 40 day celebration. The fast can be as short as 0 days, if Pascha falls on May 3 or later, or it can be as long as 29 days, if Pascha falls between April 4 and May 2. When Pascha is later in the year, the fast is shorter. When Pascha is earlier, the fast is longer. We observe the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine and oil) during the fast, which lasts from the Monday following All Saints Sunday through June 28th. Generally speaking, there is dispensation for wine and oil on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for fish, wine, and oil on Saturdays and Sundays. Here are the guidelines:

Meat

Dairy

Fish

Wine

Oil

beef, chicken, pork, turkey, elk, veal, lamb, deer, rabbit, buffalo, and so forth

milk, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so forth

fish with a backbone (not including shrimp, octopus, shellfish, squid, or other seafood.

(some include all types of alcohol in this category)

(some include all types of oil in this category)

Abstain.

Abstain.

Permitted
Saturdays and Sundays. (some permit fish daily except Wednesdays & Fridays)

Permitted
(except Wednesdays and Fridays

Permitted
(except Wednesdays and Fridays.


Abstinence includes refraining from the food and drink mentioned above as well as smoking. The Eucharistic Fast means abstaining from at least the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy.

The Dormition Fast

(August 1 through 14)

The Dormition Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. The traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine and oil) is observed during the fast which lasts from August 1st through 14th. There is dispensation for wine and oil on Saturdays and Sundays, and for fish, wine and oil on the Transfiguration which is August 6th. Here are the guidelines:

Meat

Dairy

Fish

Wine

Oil

beef, chicken, pork, turkey, elk, veal, lamb, deer, rabbit, buffalo, and so forth

milk, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so forth

fish with a backbone (not including shrimp, octopus, shellfish, squid, or other seafood.

(some include all types of alcohol in this category)

(some include all types of oil in this category)

Abstain.

Abstain.

Abstain.
(except on August 6th, the Transfiguration)

Permitted.
(on Saturdays and Sundays, and on the Transfiguration.)

Permitted.
(on Saturdays and Sundays, and on the Transfiguration.)


Abstinence includes refraining from the food and drink mentioned above as well as smoking. The Eucharistic Fast means abstaining from at least the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy.

The Nativity Fast

(November 15 through December 24)

The Nativity Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. This is a joyous fast in anticipation of the Nativity of Christ our Savior. That is the reason it is less strict than other fasting periods. The fast is divided into two periods. The 1st period is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similarly, fish, wine, and oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. The 2nd period is December 20th through 24th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil only on Saturday and Sunday during this period. Here are the guidelines:

Meat

Dairy

Fish

Wine

Oil

beef, chicken, pork, turkey, elk, veal, lamb, deer, rabbit, buffalo, and so forth milk, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so forth fish with a backbone (not including shrimp, octopus, shellfish, squid, or other seafood. (some include all types of alcohol in this category) (some include all types of oil in this category)
Abstain. Abstain. Permitted only on Saturdays and Sundays before December 20. (some permit fish Tuesdays and Thursdays also) Permitted only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays before December 20. Permitted only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays before December 20.

Abstinence includes refraining from the food and drink mentioned above as well as smoking. The Eucharistic Fast means abstaining from at least the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy.

 

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