"...for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."

-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical "Mortalium Animos"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Traditional Byzantine Rite Fast and Abstinence

Russian rite, Ruthenian rite, Melkite rite, Greek rite
(Cf. Fr. R. Janin, A.A. Les Eglises orientales et Les Rites orientaux, Paris, 1922)

There is no distinction between fast and abstinence; the fast essentially bears on the quality of the food and not the quantity. These rules are for all the Byzantine rites but it should be noted that the Russian rite is much more severe with other stricter prescriptions and nine different degrees of fasting.In villages and monasteries the ancient custom remains in vigour whereby it is forbidden to eat before Vespers. All must fast from seven years of age.

1. Great Lent: 48 days. Forbidden are: Food cooked with fat, fish, oil, eggs, milk products wine.Oil is permitted on Saturday, Sunday. Fish is permitted on the feast of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday

Russians add: All Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (& Wednesdsay of Holy Week) the food may only be cold and dry; Good Friday nothing may be eaten.

2. Apostles Lent: This varies from 9 to 42 days depending on the feast of Easter. It begins on the first Monday after Pentecost until the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. This Lent has the same rules as Great Lent but oil and fish are tollerated (in some places) except on Wednesdays and Fridays.

3. Assumption Lent: From 1st - 14th August. A difficult Lent permitting only olives and vegetables cooked in water; oil is tolerated on Saturdays and Sundays.

4. Christmas Lent: For the 40 days before Christmas. The same restrictions as for Great Lent but oil and fish are permitted except on Wednesdays and Fridays.

5. Weekly: Wednesdays and Fridays are days of strict fast

6. Forbidden food: Like most oriental Christians, the Catholics of Byzantine rite kept the Mosaic ban on eating blood, suffocated animals and certain animals considered impure; and which Oriental Church Councils have many times renewed. Catholics and schismatics are equally faithful in this matter.