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.
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS PREPARE TO OBSERVE THE HOLY DORMITION FAST (August 1-15)
What does Saint John Chrysostom say about true fasting? "Fasting" he writes, "is a medicine." But medicine, as beneficial as it is, becomes useless because of the inexperience of the user. He has to know the appropriate time that the medicine should be taken and the right amount of medicine and the conditions of the body which is take it, the weather conditions and the seasons of the year and the appropriate diet of the sick and many other things. If any of these things are overlooked, the medicine will do more harm than good. So, if one who is going to heal the body needs so much accuracy, when we care of the soul and are concerned about healing it from bad thoughts, it is necessary to examine and observe everything with every possible detail.
Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast. Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see and enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.
In other words, not only should the mouth fast, but the eyes and the legs and the arms, and all the other parts of the body should fast as well. Let the hands fast, remaining clean from stealing and greediness. Let the legs, avoiding roads which lead to sinful sights. Let the eyes fast by not fixing themselves on beautiful faces and by not observing the beauty of others. You are not eating meat, are you? You should not eat debauchery with your eyes as well. Let your hearing also fast. The fast of hearing is not to accept bad talk against others and sly defamations.
Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Saint Paul frightened us, saying: "If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves."
You did not thrust your teeth into the flesh (of your neighbor) but you thrust bad talk in his soul; you wounded it by spreading disfame, causing inestimable damage both to yourself, to him, and to many others...".
Orthodox Christians approach the various holy seasons of fasting with the above understanding and knowledge. Fasting, as we ought to know, was instituted by God Himself. In the New Testament Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and only then began His Salutary Preaching on earth. And also from the Old Testament we know that before receiving the Ten Commandments from God Himself on Mount Sinai, the Prophet Moses fasted for forty days.
According to the Holy Fathers of the Church, fasting controls the passions, strengthens man spiritually, subdues and expels demons, gives contrition, enlightenment and purity in the soul, makes the mind and the body as well healthy and, most importantly we please God.
As Orthodox Christians we fast at Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year; on Wednesdays because on this day the Jews conspired against Christ, the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot, and Friday because this was the day of His awful Passion, Crucifixion, and Death.
Guide lines on how to fast during the Holy Dormition Fast (August 1-15).
Weekdays are strict fast days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with
backbones, fowl, wine, and olive oil.
Saturdays and Sundays are Wine and Oil Days. On these days the fast is relaxed to permit wine and oil, but we still abstain from meat, dairy, fish and fowl.
The one exception to these general rules is that the Great Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ (August 6th), which falls during the Dormition Fast, is celebrated as a Fish, Wine, and Oil Day.
When the Holy Dormition Feast, August 15th, falls on a Wednesday or Friday, we again can eat fish but not meat.
Christians who are ill or have other medical issues, and women who are pregnant are exempt from fasting.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God