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New Orthodox Christian here, fasting help?

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#1 Chelsea Bradham

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:05 PM

Ok I'm seriously new to this and am well... stranded. I'm an Orthodox Christian in faith only at this point (though I soon do hope to leave my mother's United Methodist church for our local Orthodox parish) so I have just a few questions reguarding fasting as I'm trying my hardest to live an Orthodox life even before I can officially convert.

1. Is there a fast going on currently?

2. If so what type is it? (what should I avoid eating/doing?)

3. what specifically is prohibited for the fast of great lent? I know dairy, meat, and oil are but what about eggs and fish?

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:29 PM

For those of us on the New Calendar, the Nativity Fast began on 15 November, the 40 days leading up to the Nativity (Christmas). If you are interested in keeping a strict fast the traditional rules are:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Strict fast.
Tuesday, Thursday: Oil and wine permitted.
Saturday, Sunday: Fish, oil and wine permitted.
During the latter part of the fast, fish is no longer eaten on Saturdays or Sundays. In different traditions, this heightening of the fast may be for either the last week or the last two weeks.

There is a LOT of information on fasting in the fora. I recommend starting here: Theme of the Month: Fasting

#3 David Lanier

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 12:20 AM

Here's also a couple of good articles on the Nativity Fast:



#4 Michael Stickles

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 03:20 AM

When you're new to things, a calendar which lists the fasting rule for each day is very handy. I don't know what jurisdiction your local parish is, but the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has a very easy-to-read calendar online. It normally will match the fasting rule from the printed St. Tikhon's calendar (OCA), with a few exceptions. Just look for the image at the top of the day's box, to the right of the day number. If nothing is there, it's not a fasting day. If something is there, that tells you what may be eaten.

Basically, for fasting purposes you can generally divide foods into five categories:

Meat - the flesh of anything with a backbone that isn't a fish. Beef, pork, veal, poultry, sausage, etc.
Dairy - eggs and all milk products including cheese.
Fish - fish with backbones (does not include shellfish)
Wine and Oil - just what it says.
Everything else.

The symbol from the calendar shows the "highest" food type you can eat. So, if you see a yellow cheese with a slice out of it, meat is out, but dairy, fish, wine and oil are OK. If you see a fish, then meat and dairy are both out. If you see the bunch of grapes, then no meat, dairy, or fish. And if you see the cross, only things in the "Everything else" category are OK.

There is a lot more to it, of course, and the links provided so far will help with that. This is just the basics. In practice, one's priest/spiritual father provides guidance on where to be strict and where not to, based on the person's abilities and their individual situation. The best thing you could do if you want to try to "live Orthodox" before converting is to talk to the priest at your local parish and get his guidance on what practices to start with, and how strict to be in them.

In Christ,

#5 Chelsea Bradham

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 03:48 AM

If it helps the webpage this parish has put up says it's rooted in eastern europe, I have yet to attend so I don't know for sure but Russian or Romainian probably

#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 05:15 AM

Ok I'm seriously new to this and am well... stranded.

If you are "seriously new" then the answer I'm about to give will become resoundingly familiar in the next few years. Ask your priest.

There are "rules" about the fasts, but those rules need to be applied to your situation. Don't try starting to keep the fasting rule full bore without the help and support of your spiritual father (that is your parish priest). So if you want to begin adopting Orthodox practice, the first thing to do is put down the book and go talk to the priest. You will get lots of answers with lots of variation since there is a lot of variation on how the fasting rules are applied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from parish to parish, from priest to priest and from person to person. Don't "go by the book" but rather go by what your priest tells you. This is the only way that its going to work.

Fr David Moser

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