edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
Ok, I have a question that's actually about religion!

When we fast the Holy Lent we cannot eat any meat, chicken, dairy or fish. I understand this is because Lent is the holiest time for coptics and we must refrain from things we like...

But, now we are fasting the Apostles fast and we cannot have any meat and dairy, however we can eat fish.

Now I don't understand how fish can be allowed and milk is not. Fish used to be living animals that we killed in order to eat, but nothing had to die in order for us to get milk. The cow is still perfectly fine and milk is not any type of meat or poultry.

As a matter of fact, in my opinion, I enjoy fish a whole lot more than I enjoy dairy, so the Apostles fast is much easier.

Is their a specific rule that I am unaware of that tells us what to eat and what not to eat during the fasting months... or is it just a scheme the chuch devises to make our lives a little tougher? Is it the pope that decides what we can or cannot eat??

I really don't know and would appreciate some info


  • The Pope was the one who came to the decision that fish is ok to eat during the Apostle's Fast. But our religion came up with "Things We Can't Eat During Fasts" for people who don't know what they like, or are just so picky they have to know every rule for certain (i.e. it used to be, don't eat anything you like, but since this was too vague for people, our Church had to set guidelines). So that's the story. So if you like fish, you probably shouldn't be eating fish during the Apostle's Fast. But that's just me. Do what you like.

    Truly your names are glorified on earth: O Apostles, chosen by the Lord.

    - Chris
  • So technically, because I detest hamburgers, i should eat them during the fast?? I don't think anyone would take me seriously if I did.. don't you think?

    And why did the pope allow fish instead of dairy?
  • There;s actually a physical aspect to fasting as u cannot eat hamburgers if u detest them, because it's full of fat and get's u all lazy and heavy, so it'll become harder to stay up and pray. Besides, when u eat less heavy fats, ur body weakens a little, (especially if u do seyam enketa3ee, which is not eating anything for an amount of hours every day), so u'll realize that ur weak, so u get humbled, and ask God for help.

    Btw, most of this I read in Pope Shenouda's book: the spirituality of's a good book, i recommend it, it'll answer loads of questions :)

    about the fish part i'm not sure...i think i heard that it was introduced because of the many fasts in church as the people couldn't fast it all without meat and fish, so they introduced fish because it's lighter (and healtier probably), i also heard another thing that God used to feed the children of israel food from the sea when they were in the desert and craved for meat...i'm not sure about this though, so any comment is welcome ;)

  • wow, great reply matt
  • its interesting about the weakness thing which is true..thanx a lot ;D
  • Thanks Matt, that is a really good answer and very convincing.
  • fish has a lot of vitamins that help us, yet it is not fattenning or anything, like dairy.
  • we have to remember also, the connection that Jesus himself made to fish. We should remember that He fed the 5000 with fish. After the crucifixtion, he ate fish with them. Fish is also an ancient symbol of Christianity, when the Christians were being persecuted by the Roman authorities.
  • Yeah, how is that? I know that fish is a symbol of christianity, but I don't know how or why that came to be. What is the correlation?
  • Symbolism of the Fish

    Among the symbols employed by the primitive Christians, that of the fish ranks probably first in importance. While the use of the fish in pagan art as a purely decorative sign is ancient and constant, the earliest literary reference to the symbolic fish is made by Clement of Alexandria, born about 150, who recommends his readers (Paedagogus, III, xi) to have their seals engraved with a dove or a fish. Clement did not consider it necessary to give any reason for this recommendation, from which it may be safely be inferred that the meaning of both symbols was unnecessary. Indeed, from monumental sources we know that the symbolic fish was familiar to Christians long before the famous Alexandrian was born; in such Roman monuments as the Capella Greca and the Sacrament Chapels of the catacomb of St. Callistus, the fish was depicted as a symbol in the first decades of the second century.

    The symbol itself may have been suggested by the miraculous multification of the loaves and fishes or the repast of the seven Disciples, after the Resurrection, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:9), but its popularity among Christians was due principally, it would seem, to the famous acrostic consisting of the initial letters of five Greek words forming the word for fish (Ichthys), which words briefly but clearly described the character of Christ and His claim to the worship of believers: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. (See the discourse of Emperor Constantine, "Ad coetum Sanctorum" c. xviii.) It is not improbable that this Christian formula originated in Alexandria, and was intended as a protest against the pagan apotheosis of the emperors; on a coin from Alexandria of the reign of Domitian (81-96) this emperor is styled Theou Yios (Son of God).

    The word Ichthys, then, as well as the representation of a fish, held for Christians a meaning of the highest significance; it was a brief profession of faith in the divinity of Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. Believers in this mystic Ichthys were themselves : "little fishes", according to the well-known passage of Tertullian (De baptismo, c. 1): "we, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water".

    The association of the Ichthys with the Eucharist is strongly emphasized in the epitaph of Abercius, the second century Bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia (see INSCRIPTION OF ABERCIUS), and in the somewhat later epitaph of Pectorius of Autun. Abercius tells us on the aforesaid monument that in his journey from his Asiatic home to Rome, everywhere on the way he received as food "the Fish from the spring, the great, the pure", as well as "wine mixed with water, together with bread". Pectorius also speaks of the Fish as a delicious spiritual nurture supplied by the "Saviour of the Saints". In the Eucharistic monuments this idea is expressed repeatedly in the pictorial form; the food before the banqueters is invariably bread and fish on two separate dishes. The peculiar significance attached to the fish in this relation is well brought out in such early frescoes as the Fractio Panis scene in the cemetery of St. Priscilla, and the fishes on the grass, in closest proximity to the baskets containing bread and wine, in the crypt of Lucina. (See SYMBOLISM OF THE EUCHARIST.)

    The fish symbol was not, however, represented exclusively with symbols of the Eucharist; quite frequently it is found associated with such other symbols as the dove, the anchor, and the monogram of Christ. The monuments, too, on which it appears, from the first to the fourth century, include frescoes, sculptured representations, rings, seals, gilded glasses, as well as enkolpia of various materials. The type of fish depicted calls for no special observation, save that, from the second century, the form of the dolphin was frequently employed. The reason for this particular selection is presumed to be the fact that, in popular esteem, the dolphin was regarded as friendly to man.

    Besides the Eucharistic frescoes of the catacombs a considerable number of objects containing the fish-symbol are preserved in various European museums, one of the most interesting, because of the grouping of the fish with several other symbols, being a carved gem in the Kircherian Museum in Rome. On the left is a T-form anchor, with two fishes beneath the crossbar, while next in order are a T-form cross with a dove on the crossbar and a sheep at the foot, another T-cross as the mast of a ship, and the good shepherd carrying on His shoulders the strayed sheep. In addition to these symbols the five letters of the word Ichthys are distributed round the border. Another ancient carved gem represents a ship supported by a fish, with doves perched on the mast and stern, and Christ on the waters rescuing St. Peter.

    After the fourth century the symbolism of the fish gradually disappeared; representations of fishes on baptismal fonts and on bronze baptismal cups like those found at Rome and Trier, now in the Kircherian Museum, are merely of an ornamental character, suggested, probably by the water used in baptism.
  • Wow, thanks, that was a great explanation. It makes a lot of sense when someone spells it out for you ;D
  • i know no one has replied in this thread for a while....but i got some beef (no pun intended)
    i understand that fasting ur supposed to stop eating the things u'd normally eat and love most, but whats with eating veggie burgers and veggie cheese....i personally don't think thats proper but even when we're hangin out with the church they'll make veggie lasaguna and they'll go out for veggie burgers...if ur eating that stuff, u might as well not be fasting at all
    what do u guys think about this?...
  • I totally agree, it's usually so tasty that it's as if ur not fasting. I think they make such stuff in church caus it's good lookin food, and u know how important food is to egyptians ;D lol
    but for isntance we were staying at church during passion week, and we ate veggie chicken on good friday, i mean that's just crazy. The point of fasting is to obstain from things u like, if u like the taste of chocolate and u eat lent chocolate, then it's no use, get my point?
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