FastingFasting, in the Orthodox Church, typically refers to abstaining from certain foods, though it can also refer to abstaining from other pleasures of the body.
On days of fast, the Orthodox usually abstain from meat and dairy products. Fish may be eaten only on certain days. There are four main periods of fast - Great Lent, the Nativity Fast (Advent), the Apostles' Fast, and the Dormition Fast. Nearly all Wednesdays and Fridays are fasting days as well.
Before receiving Holy Communion, one should keep a total fast (no food or drink) from midnight (for morning Liturgies) or for six hours (for evening Liturgies). Some Orthodox traditions also require the abstinence from meat or even dairy products after Vespers of the night before.
The fast is done voluntarily, and although there are many rules regarding the keeping of the fast, it is ultimately between the person fasting, their spiritual father, and God. Those who are unable to keep the fast due to health reasons, or for some other reason, can be made exempt from fasting or have the fast relaxed. Ask your spiritual father or a priest if you have any questions about keeping the fast.
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