The “Great Fast” of Eastern Catholicism

I want to thank a parishioner for posing the question to me last Sunday before Mass about the Great Fast of the Eastern Churches. His question was what is the Great Fast and what is the difference between it and the fast of Latin Catholics.

Of course, we in the Latin Church are now only required to fast (one full meal only) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, with abstinence from meat on those days and all Fridays of Lent.

In the Eastern Churches, the Great Fast references Lent. It is called “Great” because it is lengthier than the other three penitential seasons of the Eastern Rites, specifically the Fast of the Nativity, the Fast of Dormition of the Theotokos (Mother of God), and the Fast of the Apostles. See The Melkite eparchy for information.

The Fast of the Apostles lasts I believe one or more weeks and ends the day before the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos runs from August 1-14th (at least in the Greek Orthodox tradition).

The Fast of the Nativity is the fast during Advent.

Remember, these fasts are the custom and discipline of the Eastern and Orthodox Churches, not the Roman Catholic Church.

Great question though. Perhaps we all could use a little more fasting than what is strictly required of us. Our Eastern brothers and sisters offer us a good example.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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