The Dormition (Koimisis) Fast: The Summer Pascha

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.

THE DORMITION (KOIMISIS) FAST: THE SUMMER PASCHA
(Source: Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)

The Holy Dormition Fast was established as preceding the great feasts of the Holy Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) of the Lord and of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Mother of God) it lasts two weeks--from August 1st - August 14th.

HISTORY

The Holy Dormition Fast comes down to us from the early days of Christianity. Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki writes: "The fast in August [Dormition Fast] was established in honor of the Mother of God the Logos/Word; Who, foreknowing Her repose, ascetically labored and fasted for us as always, although She was holy and immaculate, and had no need for fasting. Thus, She especially prayed for us in preparation for being transported form his life to the future life, when Her Blessed soul would be united through the Divine Spirit with her Son. Therefore, we also should fast and praise Her, emulating Her life, urging Her thereby to pray for us. Some by the way, say that this fast was instituted on the occasion of two feasts--the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) and the Dormition. I also, consider it necessary to remember these two feasts--one which gives us light, and the other which is merciful to us and intercedes for us."

FASTING RULES

The Holy Dormition (Koimisis) Fast is not as strict as the Great Fast, but it is stricter than the Holy Apostle's and Nativity fasts. On Weekdays the rubrics of the Church prescribe fasting without oil, while on Saturdays and Sundays wine and oil are allowed.

Until the feast of the Holy Transfiguration (August 6th) of the Lord, when grapes and apples are blessed in the churches, the older tradition is that we abstain from these fruits.

On the Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of the Lord, the Church rubrics allow fish. After that day the fruits of the new harvest could always be included in the meals.

The spiritual fast is closely united with the bodily. Just as our soul is united with the body, penetrates it, enlivens it, and makes one united whole with it, as the soul and body make one living human being.

The main thing in fasting bodily is restraint from abundant and tasty foods; the main thing in fasting spiritually is restraint from passionate, sinful movements that indulge our sensual inclination and vices. The former is renunciation of the more nourishing foods for fasting food which is less nourishing; the latter is the renunciation of our favorite sins for exercise in the virtues which oppose them.

The essence of the fast is expressed in the following Church hymn:

"If you fast from good my soul, but are not purified of the passions, in vain do we comfort ourselves by not eating. For if the fast does not bring correction, then it will be hateful to God as false, and you will be like unto the evil demons, who never eat."

SPECIAL SERVICES

During the Holy Dormition Fast we also have a number of special services that are held in the churches for the edification and spiritual nourishment of the faithful. The most important one is the Paraklesis or intercessory prayer service to the Theotokos which are served every day during the Holy Dormition Fast.

There are two forms of the Paraklesis Canon to the Theotokos the Small Paraklesis which was composed by Theosteriktos the Monk in the 8th century and the Great Paraklesis. During the majority of the year, only the Small Paraklesis (Supplication or Intercessory) to the Theotokos is chanted. However, during the Dormition Fast (August 1-14), the Typikon prescribes that the Small and Great Paraklesis be chanted on alternate evenings.

Also, on August 1st the Dormition Fast begins with the feast of the "Procession of the Wood of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord" in the Great Horologion of 1897, the origin of this feast is explained:

"Because of the illnesses that occur very often during August the tradition was established in Constantinople of processing the Precious Wood of the Cross through the roads and streets to sanctify places and prevent disease. On the eve of the feast it was carried out of the Royal Treasury and placed upon the holy table of the Great Church (the Hagia Sophia, dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God). From that day until the Holy Dormition (Koimisis tis Theotokou), litanies were served throughout the city, and the Wood of the Holy Cross was then offered to the faithful for veneration. This is the procession of the Precious and Holy Cross."

According to Orthodox Church Tradition on this day the Holy Cross is venerated (according to the rubrics of the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross during Holy and Great Lent), and a Lesser (Small) Blessing of the Waters is conducted.

[Adapted from Pravoslavie ru/OrthodoxChristian.com]

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Please note: I sincerely believe that unless one understands fully the Holy Tradition of Our Orthodox Church, one will not be willing to implement it in his or her life. We, as Orthodox Christians, are at risk of losing our Orthodox Christian identity and our Orthodox Christian faith and Tradition.  

For very many years, I have attempted to teach all of you, the Orthodox Christian faithful, the authentic Christian Tradition and Faith. Now is the right time for all Orthodox Christians to finally reach the age of spiritual maturity and no longer depend to be spoon fed by their priest. That the Orthodox Christian will be truly interested in enriching his/her life, and will abide by the Divine Teachings of the Lord and His Church. It is the time for the individual Orthodox Christian to take upon himself/herself the responsibility for his or her own salvation. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ makes perfectly clear when He says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Saint Matthew 16:24).

Salvation does not happen automatically! The Christian must work out his or her own salvation. Even salvation is not forced upon the individual believer. It takes synergy between man and God for that to happen. It takes obedience, faith, repentance, humility, love and works of mercy and charity. See what the Holy Apostle James writes: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things that they needed for the body, what does it profit? thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (St. James 2:14-17).

As we prepare to enter the Holy Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, we must, without any hesitation, enter it, with open eyes and hearts, and in the right and true spirit of our Holy Orthodox Christian faith and Tradition.

Through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George