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Fasting and confessor/spiritual father

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#1 petruska


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Posted 15 July 2013 - 11:54 AM

Hello all,
And thank you for the community! I have been reading it for the past year and this forum is one of the reasons I am being received to the Church this August.
I have one question to which I would be most happy if you could maybe answer.

I've read all that there is in this community as well as articles from orthodoxinfo.com as well as articles from other places on the internet as well as some texts from orthodox saints concerning fasting and I've understood (God willing) some things but there are still some questions I ponder about and I would be most happy to hear your anwers.

First of all, sorry for my bad English. As probably you can all see, I'm not a native speaker.

My question is that I've understood that fasting rules are for every orthodox christian,lay or monastic. As well I've understood, that confessor/spiritual father should be consulted before starting to fast.

The question is that if confessor for some reason (for me being the only orthodox in my social circle) recommends some modification out of economy, should we rather try to fast as Church rules or as confessor recommends? This question aroused when I read letters of St Macarius of Optina and he wrote that he or anyone else cannot 'allow' something that the Church forbids. However, he allowed (for medical reasons) to eat non-Lenten food during Lent but adviced to confess that to confessor.

My situation is that since my girlfriend (yes, I know and I'm sorry for this..however I don't think that breaking up with her would be a good thing,that is what my confessor said as well...we're getting married soon I hope) is not orthodox but lutheran, I feel that asking her to do food without oil every strict fast fay would be too much to be asked from her, vegan food has been my 'modification' (with my confessor)

I would not want to sin but on the other hand this is my situation and sometimes I suffer from terrible guilt for this. So-should I suffer from guilt or should I trust that my confessor knows better than I how to apply the rules and how to do in my situation? And if I do that, do I sin as the letter from St Macarius of Optina says( IF I've understood him correctly?). I've understood that this(that I am sinning when breaking the standard) could be as well understood as true. Or is not trusting the Church and my confessor enough (and I really think he is a 'good' priest and in no way too lax or whatsoever and I'm sorry for him to writing to here, but I just need to know..)

Thank you for your anwers

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:04 PM

Fasting is a form of ascetic exercise. Although there are basic guidelines and certainly what is considered optimal level of exercise, not everybody can get there right away. If you want to lift weights, you don't start bench-pressing 400 lbs, at least I don't. If you want to run a marathon, you don't run 24 miles the first day. You first find a coach who knows you and where you are, as well as where you want to be. He will then recommend a regimen that will achieve the results you desire. If you try too hard too soon, you can hurt yourself or become quickly discouraged and never get where you want to be.


That is why there are coaches. One person is in better shape than another person. The path to get there has to be adjusted for the person in question. This person gets there quickly, that person takes a little longer. If we don't trust our coach and do what he says out of obedience, bad things can result.


The same thing is true for fasting. Your confessor is also your spiritual coach. Obedience and humility are key to achieving your goals, as is patience. If we think we can do it all on our own, then we are no longer obedient, we are certainly not humble and we fail to learn patience.


Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

#3 petruska


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:54 PM

Thank you! It is interesting to hear your wise answers and I am most happy to hear from you all! At the same time I am surprised that this topic should find it's way to monachos since I posted it while ago and I thought it actually got lost in the net!

#4 Phoebe K.

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 11:02 PM

I am in a simmaler position to you having been received at Pasch this year, I am still working on learning to fast under the gidence of my Catechist who is my parish Priest (but not my confessor, my confessor however is a close friend of my parish Priest).  do understand the issues of being with non orthodox I am the only orthodox person in my family, so have to manage the fasting balanced with my family, it is a matter of discussing it, and sometimes eating together, but different meals, if your girl friend really wants to be with you she will accept this.


I agree with Herman that you need to speak to your spiritual Father, and do not worry they have heard everything before, and it is the Holy spirit doing the guiding not a person, and he defiantly knows what he is doing.  The fasting as the church prescribes is the ideal and there are many reasons why a person may not fast to that extent, as long as it is done with the agreement and gidence of the spiritual father then it ok, for the Lord knows our weakness which is why he gives us fathers on earth to guide us.  Obedience to our spiritual father is an expression and extension of our obedience to our Lord and his church, which in some situations our spiritual father also represents.


Also as a newly received member of the church I can say that being received will change your perspective on the life of faith, i cannot say much about it, but you will find fasting easier afterwords, but other challenges will come too.  Being received is the start of the journey not the end, and the point after which there is no return.



#5 Jean-Serge


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Posted 29 July 2013 - 09:18 PM

Can't you cook yourself as any modern man?  :unsure:

#6 petruska


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Posted 04 August 2013 - 12:41 PM

Thank you all. I hope and pray that all which is good for you all would happen.


In christ,


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