Fasting According to the Ancient Discipline of the Byzantine Churches

With St. Paul, we urge all to leave the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. We all are sinners in need of metanoia (repentance) in order to be rid of sin, the passions, and everything that enslaves us with regard to food and drink, clothing, pleasure, jealousy, anger, hatred, pride, obstinacy, calumny, amusements, and superficiality. He who commits sin is not free, but is the slave of sin. Great Lent is a time of purity, holiness, prayer, and liberation from sin, evil and corruption: a time very pleasing to God, a time of salvation, and a spiritual springtime preparing us to shine with the light of the glorious Resurrection. We exhort the faithful to take on the discipline of fasting and abstinence that our fathers and ancestors always practiced. My brothers and sisters, “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

What is the traditional fast and abstinence?

Fasting: is abstaining from all food and drink from midnight until Vespers (prayers at sunset). So, the person fasting eats only a single meal a day after Vespers or after the Liturgy of the Presanctified.

Abstinence: is abstaining from meat, dairy products, and eggs, while fish is permitted on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday. Wine and oil are permitted on certain days.

Days of fasting during Great Lent: Monday through Friday throughout Lent and Holy Week. Great and Holy Saturday is the only Saturday of the year on which one must keep a fast; otherwise it is forbidden to fast on Saturdays. Sunday, the day of Resurrection, is never a fast day.

Days of abstinence: the whole of Great Lent, including Sundays and all of Holy Week, except Annunciation and Palm Sunday when fish may be eaten.

Rule of fasting in the Eparchy of Newton

So as not to burden anyone’s conscience, the Holy Synod of the Melkite Church permits each eparchial bishop to ease the canonical obligations of fasting, while, at the same time, exhorts all the faithful to fast according to the traditional fast and abstinence.

The minimum rule that Melkites in the Eparchy of Newton must observe: Fasting from all food and drink from midnight until noon must be observed on the first day of Great Lent and on the last three days of Holy Week (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday). Abstinence, at least from meat, must be observed on every Friday of Great Lent. These requirements are the minimum. The faithful are encouraged to do more, such as also abstaining from meat every Wednesday or throughout the whole of Great Lent.

According to CANON 23 of the COUNCIL of AIN TRAZ (1841)

Fast consists in complete abstention from all foods and drinks from midnight to noon, and abstinence from all meats, Eggs, and Milk products (Water is allowed at any time).

Eggs and Milk products are allowed on the Fast days during the Nativity of Our Lord’s abstinence, the Apostles’ abstinence, and the Dormition’s abstinence.

Abstinence consists of abstaining from all Meats, Eggs, and Milk Products.

Fast days

  • Paramony of the Nativity and the Theophany if not Saturday or Sunday.
  • Friday before Theophany if the Theophany falls on Sunday or on Monday.
  • Friday before Nativity if the Nativity falls on Sunday or on Monday.
  • Weekdays for all the Lenten season with the exception of the day of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Annunciation of the Mother of God.
  • Holy Saturday
  • Wednesday and Friday of the Abstinence weeks. (August 1 to 14, December 10 to 23, June 17 to 28)

Abstinence days

  • Every Wednesday and Friday of the year.
  • Weekdays from December 10 to 24. (Nativity of Our Lord’s abstinence)
  • Weekdays from June 17 to 28. (Apostles’ abstinence)
  • Weekdays from August 1 to 14 with the exception of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. (Dormition’s abstinence)
  • August 1, August 14 (If not Sunday)
  • August 29 for the Forerunner and September 14 for the Holy Cross.
  • Weekdays for all the Lenten season with the exception of the day of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Annunciation of the Mother of God.

Exceptions (No Fast or Abstinence)

  • Between the Nativity of Our Lord and the Theophany.
  • Between the Resurrection of Our Lord and His Ascension.
  • The week following Pentecost.
  • First week of the Triodion (The week following Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican)