edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Pardon me if this has been aired before!

We, in the Julian calendar Chalcedonian churches are beginning the Apostles fast today-a week after you.

I think we have the same principles as you but its unclear to me how strict I should be with regards to doing without. Since I suffer discomfort if I don't drink should I trust in the Lord and not drink til whenever? After all I don't drink until mid Sunday afternoon when I receive the Holy Mysteries. If I am dining out and cannot find any vegan food on a day when no fish is eaten, do I go ahead and eat fish?

Without being legalistic and instead keeping our eyes on the blessings (which western Christians miss out on), how do YOU (guys) actually fast?

Please pray that Christ's people may be one.


  • hi, aidan,
    as you say we have slightly different fasts to you, but the same principles of fasting.
    fasting is to help us control our desires and so to help us resist sin.
    every time we feel like putting something in our mouth we think, 'is it wednesday or friday? are we in a fast?' so this makes us think before we fulfil our hunger or thirst. similarly if we have a desire to say something or do something to someone, we can similarly pause and think 'is this beneficial? is this allowed?' this is the idea anyway.

    but this only works if our primary aim is to do God's will and if we ask in humility for God to help us in our struggles against sin. only the power of the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father can help us to keep all our thoughts focused on God.

    i don't know how many people follow the apostles' fast, it's certainly not all as i know some of my friends don't fast it. i heard 2 sermons this year focused on why we should fast and encouraging more people to do it. i also don't know many people who abstain from all food or drink till 12 noon, this is difficult for many of us, especially for those who have to be very alert in their jobs. so most people just abstain from dairy products and from meat, we can eat fish every day except wednesdays and fridays. i know some people who do always abstain from food or drink until 12 (or till 3pm on wednesday or friday) and i aim to be more like them while praying God will forgive me from my weakness.

    we all discuss fasting with our confession father so everyone has advice on how to apply the fasting, and also our confession father advises us on our spiritual life generally (eg avoiding situations where we may be tempted, advice re prayers and Bible study etc) so that fasting is not separate from the other aspects of our lives.

    as for eating out, it's difficult on a vegan day; i have found that nearly every restaurant serves salad and chips (or baked potato if you want to be healthier) however we have stories of monks who have broken their fast in order to be hospitable. it's better to break your fast than to be full of pride about how well you fasted.
    many people avoid going out during fasting time, and it's a good idea to avoid going out for fun with your mates, however many of us live among non-orthodox colleagues and family and if our aim is to share God's love with them, i think (my own personal opinion) that it's better to care for them and spend time with them than to be separate completely and miss the chance to tell them about our faith. generally we try to avoid saying we're fasting (to prevent pride) but we explain it if asked directly. in fact lots of coptic customs seem to be geared towards preventing pride, and i have found this very userful as i am always tempted to be proud.

    about the details, i've heard EO fasts sometimes involve abstaining from oil. this seems to be to be very difficult, if i had to eat vegan food but also abstain from oil, i would be very thin indeed! how does this work? when do you abstain from oil and what do you eat instead? we tend to eat lots of oil, although some monks and other people fast on only bread and water. this can cause health problems, so extreme fasts are only recommended under the express guidance of one's spiritual father.

    we generally don't drink much alcohol and if anyone drank alcohol during a fasting season, they probably wouldn't tell many people about it. going 'out for a drink' is generally taboo (it implies getting drunk), but some people do drink wine with dinner etc. when going out.
    of course, if we have something personal that we need to pray about and spend time asking God for guidance and support, we can fast at other times that the prescribed fasts.

    i hope this helps and that others will correct me if my perception (based on uk churches) is mistaken.

    may God bring you the blessings of the fast and make you strong and full of love for Him.
    thank you for your prayers (which i echo) and your contributions (which i value)
    your sister mabsoota  :)
  • Thanks Mabsoota.

    We eat fish at weekends and some feast days. Oil and alcohol are permitted sometimes too (olive oil that is- most people use other vegetable oils to cook with)

    Readin about the monks diet in 6th and 7th century Britain when we were part of the Orthodox church, I think they would have used milk during fasting periods so slightly different practices rules were followed in different parts of the world and at different times.

    My major problem is keeping my wife on board. Its difficult to eat at a common table and have separate food. It's ok sometimes to just eat the potatoes and veg but if there is a big animal source spread for all, your not really doing the cook justice. Still working on this one.
Sign In or Register to comment.