Fasting Guidelines: Dormition Fast 2014

Today, as every year, I post the guidelines for the fasting of the Dormition of Theotokos. The guidelines in this post are general. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that should be practiced with the oversight and direction of your spiritual father.

The general guidelines for the Dormition Fast are as follows:

WEEKDAYS are Strict Fast Days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, fowl, wine, and 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 with backbones, and fowl.

The one exception to these general rules is that the Great Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ (August 6), which always falls during the Dormition Fast, is celebrated as a Fish, Wine, and Oil Day. On this great feastday, the fast is further relaxed to permit fish with backbones, in addition to wine and oil, but we still abstain from meat, dairy, and fowl.

Notes:

  1. Meals for the fast should follow the dietary restrictions and be cooked simply. Portions should be smaller than usual.
  2. If you have a medical condition that requires you to relax the fasting guidelines, then do so.
  3. Generally speaking, children and elderly people are allowed to relax the fast under the guidance of their spiritual father.

Blessed fast!

(This icon is called “Dormition of the Mother of God”, by the hand of Matthew Garrett, 2007)

He’s awaiting us!

God is very rich! And He’s awaiting us! … He waits for us to ask! Anyone who wants to acquire the gift of prayer, must keep silent and pray. We speak so much about prayer. That’s one thing that cannot be discussed but practiced. A deep silence is a deep prayer…Every moment is a time [in eternity] and every sigh can become a prayer. We must not cease to pray, even with the mind.

- Elder Arsenie Papacioc

I need the Lord

There is nothing on earth that I need, except that which is most essential. What do I need, what is most essential? I need the Lord, I need His grace, His kingdom within me. On earth, which is the place of my wanderings, my temporary being, there is nothing that is truly mine, everything belongs to God and is temporal, everything serves my needs temporarily.

- Excerpts from the Spiritual Diary of St. John of Kronstadt, “My Life in Christ”

Photos from Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns with animals!

Holy Pentecost
In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.
This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

Holy Pentecost

In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

Holy Tuesday:

On Holy Tuesday the Church calls to remembrance two parables, which are related to the Second Coming. The one is the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-3); the other the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). These parables point to the inevitability of the Parousia and deal with such subjects as spiritual vigilance, stewardship, accountability and judgment.

From these parables we learn at least two basic things. First, Judgment Day will be like the situation in which the bridesmaids (or virgins) of the parable found themselves: some ready for it, some not ready. The time one decides for God is now and not at some undefined point in the future. If “time and tide waits for no man,” certainly the Parousia is no exception. The tragedy of the closed door is that individuals close it, not God. The exclusion from the marriage feast, the kingdom, is of our own making. Second, we are reminded that watchfulness and readiness do not mean a wearisome, spiritless performance of formal and empty obligations. Most certainly it does not mean inactivity and slothfulness. Watchfulness signifies inner stability, soberness, tranquility and joy. It means spiritual alertness, attentiveness and vigilance. Watchfulness is the deep personal resolve to find and do the will of God, embrace every commandment and every virtue, and guard the intellect and heart from evil thoughts and actions. Watchfulness is the intense love of God.

What Do the Palm Branches Signify?

… Therefore, the palms we bless today and hold in our hands are symbols of the victory of Christ against death, as well as a symbol of our own victory, with the power of Christ, against the passions of the old man, which is our existential death. We tried to spend Great Lent in repentance, prayer and asceticism with divine love and philanthropy. So we desire to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, as well as our own resurrection following the death of our passions. And indeed this is significant, for death is a great contemporary existential and social event, which creates intense existential, ontological and social problems.

- Excerpt from the article “What Do the Palm Branches Signify?” by Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

God immediately forgives…

God immediately forgives those who ask forgiveness in humility and contrition, who ceaselessly invoke His holy name, who repent to God and unite with Him by frequent and patient prayers and by confessing sins to Him each day.

- St. Gregory of Sinai

Dear Orthodox followers, I need your help!

image

Hello my dearest friends!

I am writing an article for an Orthodox radio station. If you’d like, you can help me :) You can write a small paragraph (4 to 8 lines or if you want more no problem). In this paragraph, I’d like you to write what Orthodoxy means to you, how did you convert (if you are a convert) and how challenging is to be an Orthodox Christian that lives in a non-Orthodox country. You can also send me 1-2 photos from your parish, if you’d like. I don’t need any personal information included, but if you’d like you can write your name in the end of the paragraph, as well as your country.

You can send me your small paragraph here, here or here. God bless you all, thanks in advance for the help!

Which icon will you take with you at the procession?

I ask the same question every year when the Sunday of Oρthodoxy, so I couldn’t hesitate to ask it again :) Which icon will you bring with you tomorrow at the procession?

I chose an icon of St. Luke the Doctor of Crimea. And what about you? (You can either post your answer or photο reply)

The Lenten Fast

Great Lent is the longest and strictest fasting season of the year.

Week before Lent (“Cheesefare Week”): Meat and other animal products are prohibited, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.

First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness). For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided. On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins (see below).

Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: The strict fasting rule is kept every day: avoidance of meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil.

Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.

Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted. The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day. After St. Basil’s Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.

Wine and oil are permitted on several feast days if they fall on a weekday during Lent. Consult your parish calendar. On Annunciation and Palm Sunday, fish is also permitted.

Well, it’s that time of the year again! Today, for the Orthodox Christians, is the beginning of the Great Lent. For 40 days we will abstain from meat, dairies, fish and olive oil (note: these are general rules, each day has it’s own specific rules).
This fasting period, let’s all concentrate to God. Let’s attend Church services more often, go on confession and receive Commiunion often and pray more.
Blessed Lent to all of you!

Well, it’s that time of the year again! Today, for the Orthodox Christians, is the beginning of the Great Lent. For 40 days we will abstain from meat, dairies, fish and olive oil (note: these are general rules, each day has it’s own specific rules).

This fasting period, let’s all concentrate to God. Let’s attend Church services more often, go on confession and receive Commiunion often and pray more.

Blessed Lent to all of you!

Moments of happiness…

Moments of happiness are given to you only in order to leave you longing for time happiness in the bosom of the ever happy Lord; and ages of unhappiness are given to you, to waken you out of the drowsy dream of illusions.

O Lord, Lord, my only happiness, will You provide shelter for Your injured pilgrim?

- St Nikolai Velimirovich

Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, Great Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom

The three Hierarchs—an earthly trinity as they are called in some of the wonderful troparia of their service—have taught us in their writings and equally by their lives, to worship and to glorify the Holy Trinity, the One God in three Persons. These three luminaries of the Church have shed the light of the true Faith all over the world, scorning dangers and persecutions, and they have left us, their descendants, this sacred inheritance by which we too can attain to utmost blessedness and everlasting life in the presence of God and of all the Saints.

The Feast and commemoration of the Three Hierarchs is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast.

Scripture readings for the Feast of are the following: At Vespers: Deuteronomy 1:8-17; Deuteronomy 10:14-21; and the Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9. At the Matins: John 10:9-16. At the Divine Liturgy: Hebrews 13:7-16, Matthew 5:14-19.

In many Greek Orthodox parishes the Feast of the Three Hierarchs is combined with a celebration of Greek Letters. This usually includes special events which are dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of the ideals of Orthodox Christianity and Hellenic education. The Three Hierarchs were great men of letters who were not only defenders of Orthodox Christianity, but supporters of Greek learning.

Entrusted your hope

Once we have entrusted our hope about something to God, we no longer quarrel with our neighbor over it.

- Saint Kosmas Aitolos