Minimum Prescriptions for Fasting:
According to the decision of the Episcopal Synods of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, the minimal prescriptions regarding fasting are the following:
To abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year, except when
- a feast of the Lord or the Mother of God falls on a Friday, or during the so-called zahalnytsi, that is, periods when, owing to the nature of that period, we do not fast. These periods (zahalnytsi) are:
- The period from Christmas to Theophany
- From the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee to theSunday of the Prodigal Son
- From Pascha (Easter Sunday) to Thomas Sunday
- From Pentecost to the following Sunday (of All Saints).
- To abstain from meat and dairy products on the first day of Lent and on Good Friday.
- To abstain from meat products (dairy products may be consumed) -according to local customs – on the following days:
- The eve of Christmas (December 24/January 6) and Theophany January 5/18)
- Exaltation of the Cross (September 14/27)
- Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (August 29/September 11).
Traditional Fast Periods:
While the prescriptions for fasting listed above constitute a kind of minimum requirement for Ukrainian Greek-Catholics, all Eastern Christians are encouraged to observe- to the best of their abilities- the following traditional periods of fasting.
- Lent- the Great Fast: Lent begins forty days before Flowery (Palm) Sunday, on the Monday after Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare Sunday), and lasts until the Friday preceding Palm Sunday. Holy Week is a special Fast in honor of our Lord’s Passion, and lasts from the evening of Palm Sunday until Holy Saturday inclusive.
- The Fast of the Holy Apostles: The Fast of the Holy Apostles begins on the Monday after All Saints Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) and lasts until June 29 (July 12), the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This Fast varies
in length depending on the date of Easter.
- The Dormition Fast: The Fast which precedes the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God begins on August 1 (14) and lasts until the
eve of the Feast, which is celebrated August 15 (28).
- St. Phillip’s Fast: The Fast before Christmas begins November 15 (28) and lasts until the eve of the Feast of the Nativity, December 24 (January 6).
An Excerpt from “Our Paschal Pilgrimage” by His Grace, Bishop Basil Losten
Saturdays, Sundays, and major liturgical feasts, are not fasting days according to our tradition; the Typikon prescribes the celebration of the full Eucharist on these days, and the services do not have many of the Lenten characteristics, which appear on weekdays of Great Lent. This does not mean that we should have no abstinence or self-denial at all on weekends, but this abstinence need not be as strict. Even during Lent, Sunday dinner should be a joyful occasion for our families.
Food is a good gift from God. We do not reject that gift; fasting is not an expression of contempt for food. On Holy Pascha, we bless the foods, which we shall share, and all of us should know from experience that nothing else ever tastes quite so good as our blessed Paschal meal after the fast! There is a time to fast, and a time to feast. If we fast well, our feast will be all the more delicious. Both fasting and feasting in due season teach us to come to know God better through His creation.