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Wednesday and Friday fasting: a question about oil


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#1 Michael Du.

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 10:47 PM

Hi,

I am aware that on the Wednesday and Friday fasts, one is to abstain from meat, dairy, and oil. My question is with respect to oil. Can one consume food that has oil listed as a minor ingredient? For example, I purchased a can of beans and tomato sauce, and one of the ingredients (it must be a small amount) lists soya oil. Does this mean this food cannot be eaten? Also, does it make a difference if this oil is soya oil or olive oil? I don't want to be legalistic, but I would like to know the Orthodox rule on this. Thanks for your help.

#2 Anna Stickles

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 12:52 AM

The rule tends to be different for different people. On the dairy issue also, people are different in how they handle things like products with whey in them, or that have less then 2% milk, etc. The best thing to do is set something that seems reasonable for your family and then simply stick with this. Talking about it with your priest is usually a good idea too.

Also, for those just checking into Orthodoxy I think most priests, (and maybe some here will comment), would say that attendance at services and a daily prayer rule are the most important things to start with.

In the process of our conversion our family did not start engaging in the fasts until we became catechumans, and this is the most common thing for converts in our parish. The fasts are a compliment to our life in the Church, not really something to be done on their own.

(maybe you are already attending services regularly, but I since I don't know I thought the caveat wouldn't hurt. :-))

#3 Kusanagi

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 08:44 AM

I want to ask because some priests here say when we fast from oil it meant olive oil.
I understood it as all oil.
Can someone clarify?

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 11:28 AM

This has been discussed in several threads already. The SEARCH feature is your friend. The following threads came up using the words "olive", "oil", and "fasting". It is not that hard, really.

Principles and parameters of fasting

Regulations/rules for fasting

Lenten Fast questions

Various tidbits and thoughts on fasting

Is beer a lenten beverage?

#5 Jason Hunt

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 04:18 PM

Herman provided some helpful links, but I nonetheless wanted to point out a few things. As I understand it, no typikon specifies "olive oil" as though to make such a distinction between olive and other oils, but simply state "no oil." I would think permitting other oils is a rather recent (Pharisaical) interpretation/distortion. Specifically, unless otherwise stated on the calendar, fast days should consist of one meal per day of fresh or cooked (without oil or butter) vegetables, grains, fruits, etc. Prepacked foods (granola bars, chips, cookies, crackers) are almost never suitable. Fasts should be observed with only one meal that day, sometime after the 9th hour (3pm). That being said, obedience is greater virtue than fasting, and so one should speak with their priest or spiritual father and just do whatever he says. If your spiritual father gives you "inaccurate" advice on the matter, any lacking will be upon his shoulders while your concience will be clean because of your obedience. If, on the other hand, you disregard the instruction of your spiritual father, thinking that you "know better" than your priest, are more "spiritual" than he supposedly realizes, or are more "patristic" than he, you run a great risk of falling into pride which completely ruins fasting. Better a steak on a Wednesday with humility than bread and water with haughtiness. Of course, bread and water with humility would be best of all, but only if you have a blessing to do so.

All of this, however, is the Orthodox approach to fasting. If you are a Protestant wanting to fast, then do whatever you want, but as a Protestant you will not have access to that which makes fasting profitable (Confession, reception of the mysteries, an Orthodox rule of prayer, and an overall Orthodox way of life).

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 04:37 PM

There is also some useful information in this thread:

What we are giving up for Lent

Herman the half-fast Pooh

#7 Michael Du.

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 09:41 PM

Thanks for the links and to everyone's input on this question. I will take a look at some of the links.

#8 Anna Stickles

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 11:00 PM

I came across this quote today which I think is just beautiful. It's by Elder Cleopa "The Truth of our Faith" p. 142

The fast is a work of virtue for it bridles the desires of the flesh, strengthens the will, assists in repentance and thus is a means of salvation. At the same time it is a liturgical action, an effort that glorifies God, when it is done for Him, for it is a sacrifice which originates from our love and reverence for God."

Here in two short sentences we have the whole of our Christian effort unified in it's ascetical and liturgical contexts. The former without the latter is a mere effort at self-control separated from Christ and our corporate existence in Him, but our worship without the ascetical effort - the fasts, the standing, the effort at attention, the giving of offerings - looses it's identity as something liturgical. It looses its context as a sacrifice and becomes nothing more then passive observation, a show.

Edited by Anna Stickles, 26 August 2011 - 11:27 PM.


#9 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 01:48 PM

I just wanted to confirm that there is actually an ongoing tradition of specifying olive oil for wine days and other vegetable oils on other fasting days. This is what we did in the two monasteries I lived in during the 1970s-80s. It is also what is described in some of the main books now coming out from Russia. For example in the annual Year of the Soul (Год души) it quotes the Typikon for the Dormition fast: "About the fast of the Most holy Theotokos it should be known: during the Dormition fast of our Holy Lady Theotokos, which lasts for 15 days, we fast until the 9th hour except on the Transfiguration of Christ. On Monday, Wednesday & Friday there is dry eating and we do prostrations up until communion. On Tuesday and Thursday there is cooked food without oil (except fasting oil; my note:some books call this vegetable oil). On Saturday as well as on Sunday: cooked food with oil and we drink wine; we do not eat fish until the Dormition of the Most holy Theotokos, but at the Transfiguration of the Lord we eat fish twice during the day."

Of course though as others point out it is always best to speak with your priest/spiritual father about the particular rule you should follow during the fast. This rule however is often also influenced to a great degree by the local variations which are found: these could be the variations found in your jurisdiction, in your diocese, or even in your local parish. This needs to be taken into account so that we are part of a common effort of fasting.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#10 Frank J

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 05:59 AM

Hello Fr Raphael
I'm in a mix-marriage plus my wife is Jewish. I have spoken to my priest about my fasting and what my wife and I are doing he seems ok with. I told him my wife tries her best to keep in line with the best way she can help me keep the rules. My wife is a good woman she came to church when I join the Orthodox Church and has been my biggest fan. Here is my question is there a book that is put out by the Orthodox Church on what types of food is used at what time of the season?

Edited by Father David Moser, 30 January 2012 - 05:57 PM.


#11 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 06:13 PM

The Church has guidelines that can be easily found, just do a search on Orthodox fasting rules. The "official" guidelines are pretty rigorous, rather daunting to some. Evidently some people freaked when I posted them in another thread. How you meet those guidelines depends. It can get a little complicated if you are not used to it and of course it is always noted that you should always first consult with your priest before starting any fasting regime, just like you should consult a physician or coach before starting any rigorous physical exercise regime.

Food is a very cultural thing. Many parishes publish parish cookbooks with a specific section on "Lenten" or fasting foods. I recommend finding a good Vegan website. Like any exercise program, you set a goal and work towards it, having achieved that goal you set a "higher" one and work towards that. The key (in my estimation) is to not get complacent, to feel like what you are doing is "good enough", but to always strive to do "better". Standard caveats as listed in my profile apply.

Herman the seasonally vegan Pooh

#12 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 08:55 PM

Hello Fr Raphael
I'm in a mix-marriage plus my wife is Jewish. I have spoken to my priest about my fasting and what my wife and I are doing he seems ok with. I told him my wife tries her best to keep in line with the best way she can help me keep the rules. My wife is a good woman she came to church when I join the Orthodox Church and has been my biggest fan. Here is my question is there a book that is put out by the Orthodox Church on what types of food is used at what time of the season?


I don't know about a specific book. But Herman's advice is good. There is a visual fasting calendar here if you are on the OC, which you appear to be.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael




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