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{{spirituality}}'''Fasting''' in the [[Orthodox Church]] is usually considered abstaining from certain foods during fast specific days or periods. However, fasting means more than simply abstaining from foods. It includes also may include refraining from evil actions and thoughts, and even [[marriage|marital]] relationsand limiting entertainment, for instance. Certainly, it is a time when there is increased focus on refraining from evil actions and thoughts.==Types of fasting==Orthodox Christians usually have one three types of fasting in mind when they speak of fasting.
{{stub}}===Ascetic fast===[[Ascetic]] fasting is done by a set [[monastic]] rules. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic "burden too hard to bear" ([[Gospel of Luke|Luke]] 11:46), but as an ideal to strive for. Ascetic fast rules are not an end in themselves, but are means to [[spiritual]] perfection crowned in love, and aided by prayer. The rules mainly consists of total abstinence from certain foods and a substantial dietary reduction. ===Eucharistic or liturgical fast===[[Eucharist]]ic fasting does not refer to the normal abstinence in preparation for receiving the Holy Communion; it means fasting from the holy Eucharist celebration itself. This is done during the week days of Great Lent along with an ascetic fast. ===Total fast===This is a total abstinence from all food and drink for a short duration. This is done for one or even just part of a day, for spiritual concentration on something that is to come. For example, the eve of Christmas, or the time before receiving Holy Communion. It is an ultimate last preparation for a [[Great Feast]] or decisive spiritual event.
==Fasting times==
===Lenten Extended fasting periods===There are four main periods of extended fasting (lenten periods)::1 #The [[Great Lent]] is the period of six weeks before [[Palm Sunday]] as well as preceding [[Holy Week]] in anticipation of that greatest the Feast of [[Great Feasts|feastsFeasts]], [[Pascha]], followed by the fasting of [[Holy Week]].:2 AdventGreat Lent is preceded by the ''Meatfast'', or that starts on the Monday after the [[Sunday of the Last Judgment]] through [[Cheesefare Sunday]]. #The [[Nativity]] fastFast (or Advent; also called St. [[Apostle Philip (of the Twelve)|Philip]]'s Fast, coming immediately after his feast on [[November 14]]), is the period from [[November 15]] to [[December 24]] (forty days) in anticipation of [[Christmas]], the Festival of the Nativity of the Savior.:3 #The [[Apostles]]' fast Fast is the period from the week following Monday after [[PentecostAll Saints]] (a variable feast) to the [[feast day]] of StsSs. [[Apostle Peter|Peter]] and [[Apostle Paul|Paul]] on [[June 29]].:4 #The [[Dormition]] fast Fast is the period of the first two weeks of August in anticipation of the feast of the [[Dormition]] of the [[Theotokos]]. ===Fasting days===*Eve of [[Theophany]] ([[January 5]])*Beheading of St. [[John the Forerunner|John the Baptist]] ([[August 29]])*[[Elevation of the Holy Cross]] ([[September 14]])*All Wednesdays, except for Fast-Free Weeks, in remembrance of the betrayal of Christ by [[Judas Iscariot]].*All Fridays, except for Fast-Free Weeks, in remembrance of Christ’s Crucifixion.
===Regular fasting===
===Preparation for receiving the Holy Eucharist===
Fasting is a part of the preparation for receiving the [[Eucharist|Body and Blood]] of [[Jesus Christ|Christ]]. Additionally, confession and a specific rule of [[prayer]]s are important in readying oneselfnecessary for proper preparation.  For morning [[Divine Liturgy|Liturgies]], one abstains from meat after the preceding [[Vespers]], and keeps a strict an absolute fast (no food or drink, even water) from on arising from sleep until receiving Communion. Some also abstain from meat and dairy after the preceding [[Vespers]]. For afternoon or evening Liturgies, one should keep a strict an absolute fast for at least six hours if possible.  One should always check with the primary celebrant of the Divine Liturgy to verify his expectations regarding preparation for reception of the Eucharist. Because a the celebrating priest eats or deacon will commune and drinks then consume the remaining Eucharist, he fasts observes an absolute fast before every Liturgy he celebrates.
When The fasting discipline may be relaxed, if necessary, when one is travelling or ill, Orthodox are not obliged to fast. Additionally, exceptions are should be made for when receiving another's hospitality, because the focus should not be on outward shows of piety, but rather accepting the love and generosity of others. Orthodox Christians should not fast to the detriment of their health. Fasting is a means to an end and not an end in itself. ''If you are new to fasting, ask your [[priest]] for guidance before you begin.'' ===Fast-free weeks===After certain feasts, Orthodox Christians do not fast, in order to show their joy for the feast. :[[Afterfeast]] of the [[Nativity]] of [[Christ]] to [[Theophany]] Eve ([[December 25]] through [[January 4]]):Week following the [[Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee]] (first week of the [[Lenten Triodion]]):[[Bright Week]] (week after [[Pascha]]):[[Trinity Week]] (week after [[Pentecost]])
Additionally, during Great Lent, the size and number of meals, as well as the selection, are smaller. On many other feasts[[feast day|feast]] or fast days, particular foods are avoidedor permitted, in lesser degrees of fasting.
==Spiritual meaning==
Fasting also partners with [[prayer]], [[almsgiving]] and [[almsgivingconfession]], readying the whole person like an athlete, body, mind, and soul, for an upcoming [[feast]], similar to the way in which Orthodox Christians would hope to be properly prepared for the [[Second Coming]]. For this reason, during fasting seasons, no [[marriage]]s should take place. (Cf. Another important part of any fasting period is going to [[Pastoral GuidelinesConfession]].)
==History and Tradition==
The Christians inherited the tradition of fasting from the [[Judaism|Jews]]. Jesus, too, gave examples of fasting to his [[disciple]]s, most notably preceding his forty days in the desert when he was tempted by the [[devil]] ([[Gospel of Matthew|Matt]] 4:1-11).
==See also==
*[[Almsgiving]]*[[Confession]]*[[Prayer]]* [[Xerophagy]](or ''dry-eating'')
==External Links==
*[ "The Discipline of Fasting"] by Bishop Kallistos Ware
*[ "On Fasting at Great Lent"] by Fr. [[Alexander Schmemann]] (scroll down to comment 5)
*[ Concerning Fasting] on the [[Orthodox Church in America]] site
*[ "What Should We Make to Eat?"] by Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco
[[Category:Church Life]]

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