Fasting in the Orthodox Church
General Guidelines for Fasting: The guiding rule of the Fathers - never eat to the point of feeling full but rise from the table knowing that more could be taken and one is ready for prayer.
Fasting is never required when there are health issues that require the eating of certain foods.
Parents decide what age to begin a child fasting from foods. It is recommended when the child reaches ‘the age of reason’ around age 8. More importantly is teaching the fasting from behaviors not pleasing to God.
Foods allowed during Lent - this is considered Strict Fast A vegetarian diet including but not limited to bread, grains, vegetables, soup, tofu, fruits, nuts, beans, shellfish, octopus, squid, juice, coffee, tea or water.
Foods not allowed during Great Lent: All meat, poultry, fish, olive oil (vegetable oil is allowed), dairy products, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and alcoholic beverages. Wine is permitted on certain days (see calendar). Fish & olive oil are allowed on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) and Palm Sunday, April 24, 2016.
Days on which the number of meals is limited: It is customary to limit the number of strict fast meals on Clean Monday (the first day of Lent, March 14, 2016), and on any day that you are preparing to receive Communion at a Presanctified liturgy.
Preparing for Presanctified Liturgies in the late afternoon: There are three ways to prepare depending upon your personal abilities. • If you are able - keep complete fast the entire day and have a meal after the Liturgy • Or have a fast worthy breakfast, no lunch followed by a meal after the Liturgy • Or have a fast worthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and a meal after the Liturgy.
Fasting Recommendation Level I is recommended for those who never or rarely keep the fast throughout the year on Wednesdays and Fridays. • Start by not eating any meat the first week of Lent and during Holy Week. • Do not eat meat every Wednesday and Friday during Lent. • Attempt to continue the Wednesday, Friday fast throughout the rest of the year and graduate next year to Level II.
Level II is recommended for those who keep the fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year but rarely follow a strict fast including dairy products and fish. • 40 days no meat, plus all of Holy Week • Dairy products & fish are allowed but not on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Level III is the ideal for those who fast throughout the year. • 40 days of Lent and Holy Week are kept as a strict fast.
You may create your own guidelines that may be a combination of the above recommendations, please consult your priest if you have questions.
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