Fasting is a command of God. It is one of the first two commandments, God gave to Adam in Paradise. It is a process that cleanses us physically and spiritually and prepares us to accept the Lord. Our Church has established some rules that we should typically follow.
The fasting for Lent, as well as the fasting of Wednesday and Friday, are the oldest and only ones that have Universal dimension, and are confirmed by the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils. The other established fasts of the year, based on the Holy Tradition of the Church, are strong and reliable too, though.
The fasting for Lent already goes back to apostolic times and was instituted in imitation of the forty days fasting of our Lord (Matt. 4, 2), as well as the Prophets Moses (Exod. 34, 28) and Eliou (19, 8).
The rules of fasting
• In general the foods allowed are:
• Also, when we don’t eat oil, we do not drink neither wine nor spirits. Only the days we eat oil these are allowed.
• When we say that we are allowed to eat fish, it means that we do not eat meat, dairy or eggs. We eat only fish and oil.
• We take care, however, of our diet in case of health problems, and, along with our spiritual, we consult our doctor, so as not to deprive ourselves of essential vitamins needed in our body.
In periods of fasting, the point also is:
• to fast spiritually too, pray and study the Bible.
• help those in need, and try not to discriminate, neither judge people (these values should become a way of life throughout the year and not only during fasting periods though), to confess and communion.
• limit our conjugal continence (always of course in consultation and agreement between the spouses) as a psychosomatic exercise, and also restrict extreme amusements.
The fasting for Lent begins on Clean Monday and ends on Great Saturday. It is a 48 days fasting. The traditional fasting is as follows:
In general, the prohibited foods are:
• on Saturdays and Sundays we are allowed to eat oil and drink wine, except on Great Saturday which is the only Saturday of the year in which oil and wine are prohibited.
• on March 25 and Sunday Palm fish, oil and wine are permitted.
• on Lazarus Saturday milk is prohibited, but oil and wine are permitted.
• on Palm Sunday, Holy Week, including Holy Saturday, all are prohibited.
You may also, if conditions permit, not eat oil on Clean Monday. Normally on Clean Monday, like during Lent, all mentioned foods are prohibited as well as oil.
If you decide to fast, note that:
• If you have any health problems, such as anemia, consult your doctor.
• Discontinue fasting and eat meat if you have dizziness or other sickness and feel the need to eat meat.
• Fasting is something that has to do with you only, so do not push others to follow you.
• Because fasting is something we decide to do with a sense of responsibility and point, it is no use looking to find loopholes, such as tofu or other similar foods to replace cheese or meat. Margarine is prohibited too.
• Pass from fasting to your normal diet with care, respecting the traditions. On the night of the Resurrection it is necessary to eat mageiritsa or some other meat soup to prepare your digestive system. The next day eat lamb wisely.
Have a blessed Lent!