Fasting FAQs (Your Questions)

Could you please explain how to be obedient to the character in “
An Empty Church Is A Peaceful Church?” More generally, how to be obedient to God and to people around you that have some authority over you (parent, boss), or even to people that are maybe not what we believe is pleasing God but they do not yet know better (as in: peer pressure).

Betty in Baltimore

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Dear Fr Joseph,

What exactly do you mean by Fast?


Joe Slow in Sacramento

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Dear Fr Joseph,

Why are there two weeks of transition into Great Lent (Meatfare and Cheesefare) but none leading to Nativity Fast? Does this mean that the fast is not intended to be kept as strictly?

Cindy in Quincy

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Hey Father,

What is the difference between Fast and Strict Fast?


Suffering Seraphim in Saratoga

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Dear Fr Joseph,

I have a Great Lent cookbook that says fish are always OK, yet other sources say only shellfish. What gives?

You can call me Rachael but do not call me Ray in Santa Fe

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Dear Fr J,

What about Thanksgiving?

Just wondering,

Wanda in Wauwatosa

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Dear Fr Huneycutt,

I do understand how important it is to follow the guidance of one’s spiritual father in the matters of fasting because of the fact that one chooses to be obedient to the fasting that God gives through the Church. But it seems that the different typicons of fasting that exist indicate a lot of variation within our Church, and I am usually at a loss to reconcile this variation with the fact that our Church is one united body that has passed on this tradition for 2000 years. How can I explain this to my non-Orthodox friends who ask why do some people fast this way and others that way, and why fish, but no meat, and why oil, etc? I’d really like to give them the big picture answer that goes beyond the simple aspect of food.

Written in blue from Sue in Kalamazoo.

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Hi Father, I have a Question:

What about what some in our parish lovingly call “pharisee food”… fake sausage patties and burgers, Nayonaise, Soy Dream “ice cream”, soy/rice/almond/potato starch and warm tap water milk, etc. I admit I use them a lot…but in some cases it feels a little like cheating…keeping the letter but not the spirit of the fast…depriving ourselves formally of some proscribed food group but traveling to the ends of the earth (or dark shady vegan scented edge of the city) and paying through the nose to avoid missing the flavors (or their feeble approximations) of our favorite foods.

Manuel in Miami

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Dear Father Joseph Honeycutt,

When you said you would welcome questions about fasting, I wanted to write. I am a mother of 3 kids, ages 1, 6 and 8. Can you briefly explain how to lovingly encourage children to fast? My 8-year-old understands the fasting but constantly complains that he is hungry. A couple of bowls of split pea soup just don’t fill him. Should children’s fasting be always voluntary and to what extent do we dictate what they eat?

Pam in Pensacola

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I’m an Orthodox enquirer.

At the moment, if I eat breakfast on a Sunday morning, then go to church, thereby missing morning tea, I am feeling faint well before lunchtime. I’m also extremely cranky with my husband and children. How do Orthodox cope with the Sunday morning fast that I have heard about? Have Orthodox people experienced some extra grace to get through that time with no food or drink at all? Or have I heard wrongly about this tradition?


Ruth Ann in the Rio Grande

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Greetings Fr. Joseph:

I am a catechumen in Boise ID and am slowly coming to take in Orthodoxy, and learning all the much further there is to go. Well, my question follows, but I would say I am to timid to find my name on radio broadcast (not that I think this is sure-fire podcast material or anything).

My question lies in the asceticism of many Orthodox monastics (and Saints, though for I figure they new what they were doing) and the words of Colossians 2:11-23. Particularly confusing to me is when St. Paul emphasizes “Therefore, if you died with Christ form the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulation “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle””. St. Paul continues getting closer to the confusion I have; we have the ending, “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

Where does this leave asceticism which Orthodoxy so loves?

All the best,

Boyd in Boise

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These are the questions. For the answers (maybe not THE answers, but some answers), tune in to the Orthodixie Podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

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