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Fasting for Holy Communion


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#1 Marie A.

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 08:17 PM

I have been visiting a couple of monasteries and noticed that the nuns and monks only receive the sacred Mysteries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and sometimes on Sundays. I questioned this when I noticed that many guests did the same. I was told that fasting for Holy Communion also means fasting from foods and oil the day before like the Wed./Fri. fast. I am a convert and had never heard this before. I was just wondering if this is the common practice and if others had heard of it.

I also learned ia the internet(not a good place to learn) that the day of the Feast of the Holy Cross that we just celebrated is a strict fast day. Again I was wondering about this fast day too.

Thanks for the help.
Marie

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 02:33 AM

Marie,

There are many sites you can visit dedicated to fasting rules. We all fast on Wednesday in rememberance for the Lord's betrayal and on Fridays for His death. Monasteries also fast on Mondays in rememberence of the Holy angels.

#3 Andrew

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 03:05 AM

From what I know, you fast as you would on Wednesday or Friday for Holy Communion. On some days there is less required, like on a Saturday if you want to commune on Sunday - you can have oil and wine on Saturdays if you are receiving on Sunday. Typically, monastics following the Athonite typicon commune on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and most Sundays, because they fast on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the modified Saturday fast if they are communing on Sunday. Sometimes it is different if there is a major feastday falling on a Monday or Friday or whatever... then you fast the day before as you would on Wednesday or Friday, but sometimes with the modification according to if it was a Sunday.

Check with you spiritual father... I know a lot of parishes do not practice this, and the usual Wednesday - Friday fasting is done, and you can commune on any day no matter if you have fasted the day before or not. As I understand it, the typical fasting schedule for American parishes is that you fast on Wednesday and Friday, fast a minimum of six hours before Holy Communion (if you have medical issues, then your spiritual father takes this into account), etc. But again, I don't know. I just know what I'm told!

#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 04:14 AM

I was told that fasting for Holy Communion also means fasting from foods and oil the day before like the Wed./Fri. fast. I am a convert and had never heard this before. I was just wondering if this is the common practice and if others had heard of it.


Many Russians have the practice of keeping a strict fast for 3 days before receiving the mysteries. Some of the more pious Serbs will fast from all food, drinking only water for 7 days before receiving the Mysteries. There is also the frequent practice of keeping strict fast for 40 days before receiving (thus most people brought up with this custom will receive only on Pascha or possibly Nativity).

I also learned ia the internet(not a good place to learn) that the day of the Feast of the Holy Cross that we just celebrated is a strict fast day. Again I was wondering about this fast day too.


Usually, according to the typicon, the feasts of the cross and of St John the Baptist are kept as strict fasts.

Fr David Moser

#5 Marie A.

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 03:10 PM

"I have been visiting a couple of monasteries and noticed that the nuns and monks only receive the sacred Mysteries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and sometimes on Sundays."
I actually met "only receive the sacred Mysteries on Tuesdays and Thursdays....meaning the day after they have fasted.

Thank you Andrew. And yes I did check with my spiritual Father. I was just wondering why I had never heard this before..

Thank you also Fr. David for your input. I see that it depends on the Church you are in and also the advice of your Spiritual FAther.

#6 Stephanos Franke

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 11:06 AM

Hello Marie,

Thank you also Fr. David for your input. I see that it depends on the Church you are in and also the advice of your Spiritual FAther.


I think it depends more on the advice of your spiritual father as he is the one who (should) knows you and those things (strict fasting for a long period for example) which perhaps would ask too much of you.

En Christo
Stephanos

#7 Fr Dn Theodoros

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 12:57 AM

I have to agree with everyone here Marie. I too questioned when and how to fast for communion. My Spiritual Father advised me fast strictly on Wednesday and Friday and then to abstain from meat on Saturday. For others, they don't fast from meat on Saturday. It depends on your abilities and needs.

In Christ,

Theodoros

#8 David R.

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 02:41 AM

Dear Fr. David,

You said: "Some of the more pious Serbs will fast from all food, drinking only water for 7 days before receiving the Mysteries. There is also the frequent practice of keeping strict fast for 40 days before receiving (thus most people brought up with this custom will receive only on Pascha or possibly Nativity)."
How common is this? Looking from a medical standpoint, are many people able to do this? What comprises the Forty day fast?

Thank you!

In Christ,

David

#9 Nicolaj

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:18 PM

Dear Marie,

You can find thhe fasting days for true orthodox here>

http://www.holytrini...x.com/calendar/

and coming from another Tradition doesn't mean you can't do the fasting the way real orthodox do.
Forty days do no harm and you will be delighted afterward.

Christos voskrese, Nicolaj

#10 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:28 PM

Dear Nicolaj,

Could you share with any of the other unreal orthodox here or others coming from another Tradition any additional fruits of participating in the fasting the way real orthodox do?

I mean if what you have written above doesn't taste good here and there regarding fasting does that mean I'm not truly orthodox also?

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#11 Dimitris

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:11 PM

Dear Nicolaj!

Sorry to say, but what you write seems very wrong and dangerous to me. The "real way" of Orthodox fasting - in my opinion - has nothing to do with adherence to a calendar found in the internet, but only with that what your priest or your spiritual father tells you. Forty days fasting just because a calender tells so, and without spiritual guidance, is certainly not delighting, but in my eyes very dangerous.

Kind regards,
Dimitris

#12 Nicolaj

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 07:25 PM

What is wrong and dangerous? The tradition brought to us by the Holy Church? Don´t make me weep!

The calendar on the internet is for use by believers and it is in total correspondence with other calendars I look up and use from orthodox monasteries, the Russian Patriarchate and other orthodox calendars which obey the fasting rules practiced by the Holy Church for over centuries.

So Dimitris if you think fasting is dangerous so let it be, nobody will be hurt if you don´t fast.

And to you Matthew, Marie who original asked about this, is obvious a convert but not very familiar so far with the traditions in the different orthodox churches. I looked up her profile but could not find anything about the direction she belongs to, so my advice was somewhat general.
And it only says that it is healthy to fast and nothing to be afraid for. The forty days for Christmas and Easter are healthy to me and I survived them some years every year now!

To encourage someone new to orthodoxy to do the right things should not be rewarded by an infraction!

Nicolaj, the living evil!

#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 11:34 PM

How common is this? Looking from a medical standpoint, are many people able to do this? What comprises the Forty day fast?


The 40 day fast is very common - we have both Nativity fast and Great Lent which are 40days in length and then the two lesser fasting periods (Apostles fast and Dormition fast) that are not usually quite as long The strict fast is to abstain from all meat, dairy, fish wine and oil. This is very possible and many people do indeed follow this fast, especially during Great Lent.

Medically, this fast is probably more healthy than the high fat, high carb, high cholesterol diet that most us eat most of the time.

Fr David Moser

Edited by Father David Moser, 14 November 2008 - 11:34 PM.
fix quote


#14 David R.

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 04:41 PM

Thank you, Fr. David!

You mentioned a seven day fast by the Serbian Orthodox wgere they only drink water. I thought you implied some do so also for forty days. Is the seven day fast with water only something done more than a few times a year?

In Christ,

David R.

#15 Paul Cowan

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 08:44 PM

I know the physical effects of water only or even just a liquid diet is very effective in "cleaning you out" and at keeping one in the bathroom for extended periods of time. I would not "want" to particpate in this type of consumption too often in a year.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 08:59 PM

You mentioned a seven day fast by the Serbian Orthodox wgere they only drink water. I thought you implied some do so also for forty days. I


I am not quite so familiar with the Serbian practice, but it would be my assumption that in such cases this would only be undertaken a few times during the year (Nativity, Pascha, the family Slava for example)

It is medically possible (and arguably beneficial) to undertake a 40 day water only fast. It does have a purging effect on the body, releasing all the toxins bound up in the fat cells as they are metabolized. There is an old book (not Orthodox) called God's Chosen Fast by Wallis in which the author describes such a fast and his experiences, having undertaken it.

Fr David Moser

#17 Olga

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 10:57 PM

With the greatest respect, Fr David, a 40-day water fast would result in quite significant deleterious effects to most people. A basic knowledge of human physiology would back this up. Only for those of particularly good health and fitness, or those blessed with a particular closeness to God, could (should?) attempt it. Please forgive my presumption.

#18 Nicolaj

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 09:49 PM

What is this world coming to!! So weak and fearing to eat less for some days....

You are not forced to do so, but everyone is invited to try and tempt the demons inside.

And if you really get trembled and weak then stop.

No need to get upset, just try and wonder when you survive without all the stuff you eat all the other days of the year!

But I must say myself 40 days on just water I didn't try myself so far. But Nativity Fast is not that far away, perhaps.....

Christos voskrese! Nicolaj

Edited by Nicolaj, 17 November 2008 - 09:50 PM.
Irrelevant remarks.


#19 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 10:26 PM

It may not all be simple weakness, though there is doubtles plenty of that as well. Life in industrialized nations...espeically those without an Orthodox past as a foundation are not structured in fast friendly ways:

1. We don't cook and eat at home as much as in times past, especially midday meals. If we don't brown bag it we have to eat out and it problematic sometimes to locate...and/or get to a place that serves fasting acceptable fare.

2. For some strange reason fast food with lots of meat and cheese is significantly cheaper than stricter vegetarian fare when eating out.

3. We live scattered lives physically not just mentally. Our homes, our parishes, our jobs and the places where we much shop for necessities can be widely separated...lots of car or transit time.

4. If 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 isn't enough some have 2 jobs to work at and those with families have their lives scheduled all over the place (sports practice, scouting, tutoring, dance lessons, etc)...so much so that a sit down together family meal instead of eating on the fly...is an occasional thing, not the normal daily thing as it once was.

The pace and structure of Orthodox daily liturgical life is a better fit with a villiage or old style urban center...in actual communities. And we seldom live in communities anymore...much less Orthodox ones, we live in cookie cutter subdivisions and apartment complexes where neighbors for years can still be almost total strangers as if they lived in another city or another planet for that matter.

In short some of us do good just to feel guilty about not keeping a fast properly....seriously. Just speaking for myself there are times when I am thankful to feel guilty...it means there is at least some sensible toehold where grace has not given up on me or I on it. That doesn't mean we don't try...it just means we tend to fail more often.

On top of all this we...at least most converts I know, have been taught the practice of frequent communion. Granted in that teaching the insistence on more thorough preparation as is appropriate has not been so strong as perhaps it should be. So for us there is the danger of treating the Holy Gifts with a certain casual familiarity if not at times, God help us, indifference. But the sterner practices of going so long without food of any sort before communion would make it so forbidding that it would become a rare thing again...and so many recents saints urged a return to more frequent communion it would be a shame to cast that behind us because of a standard of rigor that is beyond most of us at least initially. Doubtless there is a balance to be struck...that is both reverential and prepared and is frequent enough to be a part of our life week to week and not just once or twice a year.

And perhaps in our time is the time to start finding and insisting upon that balance, but people are where they are and are capable of what they are capable of regardless of their time and place. There will always be some capable and needing of greater rigor and some not so capable and needing less with a broad range in between.

#20 Father David Moser

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 10:38 PM

On top of all this we...at least most converts I know, have been taught the practice of frequent communion. Granted in that teaching the insistence on more thorough preparation as is appropriate has not been so strong as perhaps it should be. So for us there is the danger of treating the Holy Gifts with a certain casual familiarity if not at times, God help us, indifference. But the sterner practices of going so long without food of any sort before communion would make it so forbidding that it would become a rare thing again...


I think that if we commune frequently then we should prepare appropriately - however, that does not mean that someone who communes weekly needs to follow the rule meant for those who receive only once or twice year. If you go a year between baths, then it takes a lot of scrubbing and primping to be "squeaky clean" - but if you bathe every week or even every day, it takes much less effort and time to achieve the same state of "squeaky clean-ness" Did not our Lord allude to the same thing when He washed the feet of the disciples. When Peter over reacted and wanted to be washed all over - Jesus gently calmed him down saying he was clean "but not all". Didn't need to wash all over, only his feet. The preparation to receive the Mysteries should be in proportion to your need to prepare and your priest is the one who will tell you what it is you need to do.

Fr David Moser

Fr David Moser




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