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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

Preparation - Fasting Theology

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Cycle Preparing and Celebrating Preparing (Fasting, Praying, and Performing Charity) Fasting Praying Performing Charity Feasting (Celebrating)

We prepare by fasting. Fasting is an ancient form of spiritual discipline to intensify an awareness of Holy God. The idea of fasting is to bring us closer to Holy God, and to teach us self-control and dedication to Holy God.

The purpose of fasting is transformation. As such fasting should always be focused towards making life simpler not more complicated.

The What, Who, Why, When, and Where of Fasting by Father/Abouna Sebastian Carnazzo, pastor of St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, San Jose, CA, United States of America.

What Fasting is the practice of eating less quantity of food or completely abstaining from food, or certain types of food, at certain times.

Who Christians have been fasting from the beginning. Jesus fasted (Matt 4:2), his disciples fasted (Matt 6:16-18), and he said that his disciples would fast until his return (Matt 9:15). Jesus taught that there are some evils that can only be done away with through prayer and fasting (Matt 17:21). Hence, the early Church fasted during the time of the Apostles (Acts 13:3; 14:23) and has continued until today. Christians have always fasted. To what degree someone is able to fast or abstain from certain things depends on age and physical health, but there is no way out of it. If you are a Christian you should fast!

Why Many people think that fasting makes God happy because he likes to see us suffering. That's impossible. First of all, God desires your happiness. Second, God doesn't change. You can't make him happy or sad. Whether you fast or not, it doesn't change God, it changes you. Think of it like spiritual exercises or calisthenics! When you fast you choose not to eat certain things or at certain times. This strengthens your willpower. The more you do this the stronger your willpower becomes. Then, when you encounter somethings that is evil, a temptation to sin, you have the strength to choose not to sin. Fasting does not change God, it changes you!

When From the early Church, Christians have been fasting weekly, during certain times in the year, and during periods of personal trial. During the time of Jesus, Jews fasted on Mondays and ?Thursdays each week because, as far as can be discerned, they believed that Moses went up to get the Torah on the mountain on Thursday and came back down on Monday (Luke 18:12). Christians began fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, because these are the days when Jesus was handed over (Wednesday) and crucified (Friday). This practice developed during apostolic times (Didache 8:1) and has continued to today. Over the first few centuries of the Church, larger fasting periods developed as well, of which there are four: The Great Fast in preparation for Pascha, the Apostles Fast, in preparation for the Feast of Peter and Paul, the Dormition Fast, in preparation for the Dormition, and the Nativity Fast, in preparation for the Nativity. Finally, individual Christians, Christian Churches, Christian Communities, also sometimes fast during times of prayer in preparation for coming times of difficulty.

Where Fasting is something we do for our own spiritual development. As Jesus said, when we fast, we should go about our normal daily routine, and there should not be any indication to those outside that we are fasting (Matt 6:16-18). Otherwise, we could easily fall into pride, and then the whole purpose of fasting, avoidance of sin, has been lost. At home at meal time, when the whole family is fasting, meals are taken together and fasting is a united effort that strengthens the family bond and encourages each member to keep up the effort. This is like friends or family members committing to go out and exercise together each day. We can also do this when we are alone, taking a meal at lunch at the cafeteria, or even out to lunch with some co-workers, as long as we are careful not to draw any attention to ourselves. It is quite easy to choose a shrimp salad or vegetable soup without anyone taking notice. But be careful. If someone who is not keeping the Fast invites you to dinner, and you are inclined to go, if nothing else but to be polite, you should eat whatever is put before you (1 Cor 10:27). Remember, charity in all things! And so even this can strengthen you. How so? If you have been keeping the fast without fail, and then sometime during the fast you are in a situation where you must break the fast for a moment, such as the above example, it can also keep you from falling into pride, since you cannot say to yourself at the end of the fast, "Look how strong you are! You did it, you kept the Fast! Wow, you must be really spiritual!" Remember, fasting is to help us avoid sin, and pride is the greatest sin of all!

May God bless you now and in a special way during the coming Fast!

More Information

CyberTypicon by Reverend Father / Abouna Peter Boutros
CyberTypicon lists Fast and Abstinence days.

"CyberTypicon" Definitions by Reverend Father / Abouna Peter Boutros
CyberTypicon has the Fasting and Abstinence rules. Please click on Fast and Abstinence.

Traditions of Great Lent and Holy Week Please click on Fast and Abstinence, Reasons why. Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton Material prepared by Fr. Philaret Littlefield for inclusion in the St. George Melkite (Byzantine) Greek Catholic Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States Sunday Bulletin

Abouna, Why do We Fast? by Fr. Philaret D. Littlefield, Reprinted from Sophia, Volume 31, Number 1, Jan. - Feb. 2001, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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