All Saints Day, and the Beginning of the Apostles' Fast 2015

My apologies for not keeping up with the major feast days. Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. One week after Pentecost we celebrate the Sunday of All Saints, and the following day the Apostles’ Fast begins – that’s today! I have once again added a page in the top menu with the fasting guidelines for this fast, for anyone that may be interested.

So, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the feast of All Saints, but it is a beautiful tradition. I’m stealing these few paragraphs about it straight from the GOARCH website, and below that some info on the fast:

The first Sunday after the Feast of Holy Pentecost is observed by the Orthodox Church as the Sunday of All Saints. This day has been designated as a commemoration of all of the Saints, all the Righteous, the Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Shepherds, Teachers, and Holy Monastics, both men and women alike, known and unknown, who have been added to the choirs of the Saints and shall be added, from the time of Adam until the end of the world, who have been perfected in piety and have glorified God by their holy lives.

Honoring the friends of God with much reverence, the Prophet-King David says, “But to me, exceedingly honorable are Thy friends, O Lord” (Ps. 138:16). And the Apostle Paul, recounting the achievements of the Saints, and setting forth their memorial as an example that we might turn away from earthly things and from sin, and emulate their patience and courage in the struggles for virtue, says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every burden, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

This commemoration began as the Sunday (Synaxis) of All Martyrs; to them were added all the ranks of Saints who bore witness (the meaning of “Martyr” in Greek) to Christ in manifold ways, even if occasion did not require the shedding of their blood.

All Saints
Therefore, guided by the teaching of the Divine Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition, we honor all the Saints, the friends of God, for they are keepers of God’s commandments, shining examples of virtue, and benefactors of mankind. Of course, we honor the known Saints especially on their own day of the year, as is evident in the Menologion. But since many Saints are unknown, and their number has increased with time, and will continue to increase until the end of time, the Church has appointed that once a year a common commemoration be made of all the Saints.”

About the Apostles’ Fast
Having rejoiced for fifty days following Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles began to prepare for their departure from Jerusalem to spread Christ’s message. According to Sacred Tradition, as part of their preparation, they began a fast with prayer to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings.

The scriptural foundation for the Fast is found in the Synoptic Gospels, when the Pharisees criticized the apostles for not fasting, Jesus said to them, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” In the immediate sense, Christ was referring to his being taken to be crucified; but in the wider sense it is understood in terms of his Ascension into heaven, and his commission to preach the Gospel, which can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting.

The tradition of the Fast has existed at least since Pope Leo I (461 AD), as is evidenced by his homilies, though it has subsequently been forgotten in the West. The Fast is thought to have been instituted out of thanksgiving to God for the witness of the apostles of Christ. With this Fast, believers express their thanks for the apostles’ endurance of persecution during their mission.

The Apostles’ Fast is what’s called an ascetic fast. Ascetic fasting is done by a set monastic rules. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic “burden too hard to bear” (Luke 11:46), but as an ideal to strive for. Ascetic fast rules are not an end in themselves, but are means to spiritual perfection crowned in love, and aided by prayer. The rules mainly consists of total abstinence from certain foods and a substantial dietary reduction.
(above info from Wikipedia)

Your fasting rule may vary according to your ability.

Blessed fast to all!

Nativity Fast begins tomorrow

For Orthodox Christians, the Nativity Fast begins tomorrow, November 15, and ends on after the Divine Liturgy for Christmas has been celebrated. In our church bulletins, we give the fasting guidelines and a few ideas of things to eat. That’s basically how this blog got started, so I could have a place to share Lenten recipes.

So. If you haven’t noticed, I have added a new page for the Nativity Fast – check it out! The page contains the fasting guidelines, a handful of recipes both with and without oil, and other tips to help get you through the next 40 days.

quick note about Cheesefare Week

I know this is a little late, but I noticed a couple hits on the blog from people searching things like “shrimp during Cheesefare week” and “fasting on Wednesday during Cheesefare Week”. In case anyone is still looking: this is a vegan blog, so I am eating all vegan cheese this week for that reason; however, according to tradition you may eat dairy and eggs every day during Cheesefare Week, including Wednesday and Friday. And shellfish, like shrimp, is permitted throughout the entire fast.

Look above for the Fasting Guidelines tab if you’d like to see the general guidelines for Great Lent – or ask your priest!