My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON NOVEMBER 15TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH BEGINS THE HOLY NATIVITY FAST [November 15 through December 24)
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, is the beginning of this year's Holy Nativity Fast. The Nativity Fast is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Ecclesiastical (Church) year. This is a joyous fast in anticipation of the Holy Nativity (Birth) of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the weeks between now and December 25, Orthodox Christians prepare themselves spiritually to celebrate the Birth in the flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As we begin the fast, we encourage all Orthodox faithful to adhere to the Holy Tradition of our Church.
This fasting season is less strict than other fasting periods. The fast is divided into two periods. The 1st period is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similarly, fish wine, and oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. The 2nd period is December 20th through 24th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, fish, and oil) is observed. There is dispensation given for wine and oil only on Saturdays and Sundays during this period.
Abstinence includes refraining from the food and drink mentioned above, as well as from smoking. The Holy Eucharistic Fast means abstaining from at least the previous midnight for communing at a morning Divine Liturgy.
THE PURPOSE OF FASTING
The purpose of fasting is to focus on the things that are above, the Kingdom of God. It is a means of putting on virtue in reality, here and now. Through it we are freed from dependence on worldly things. We fast faithfully and in secret, not judging others, and not holding ourselves up as an example.
- Fasting in itself is not a means of pleasing God. Fasting is not a punishment for our sins. Nor is fasting a means of suffering and pain to be undertaken as some kind of atonement. Christ already redeemed us on His Cross. Salvation is gift from God that is not bought by our hunger and thirst.
- We fast to be delivered from carnal passions so that God's gift of Salvation may bear fruit in us.
- We fast and turn our eyes toward God in His Holy Church. Fasting and prayer go together.
- Fasting is not irrelevant. Fasting is not obsolete, and it is not something for someone else. Fasting is from God, for us, right here and right now.
- Most of all, we should not devour each other. We ask God to "set a watch and keep the door of our lips."
YOU MAY NOT FAST:
- Between December 25 and January 5 (even on Wednesdays and Fridays)
- If you are pregnant or nursing a newborn.
- During serious illness.
- Without prayer and Repentance/Confession.
- Without works of charity.
- Without forgiving your enemies.
- Without humility and contrition of heart/tears.
- Without faith. Without adhering to the Divine Commandments of God.
- Without love.
- According to your own will and without guidance from your spiritual father/father confessor.
With agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God