Orthodox Fasting


Originally broadcast April 8, 2005

JACK HINTON (Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC): In general, the purpose of fasting is preparation for an important event that takes place at the end of the fast, and this is true not only of Great Lent, but of the other fasting periods as well.

The very cause of the fall of man was an act of disobedient eating.

Fasting is voluntary, but it’s expected unless you’re physically unable to. What I hope to achieve is weakening myself physically so that it’s easier for me to remember that I depend for my very existence and for my daily sustenance on my Creator. I want to deemphasize the day-to-day material world and I want to emphasize spirituality.

There’s a strict fast, which means abstain from everything for, obviously, short periods of time, and this applies to the preparation for every Holy Communion.

The basic fast is abstain from meat, and meat includes fish with backbone, dairy products, animal byproducts, oil, and wine.

It affects my daily life, there’s no question. When you reduce the amount of food you’re eating, and your blood sugar drops, and you become a little bit lightheaded, you are very much prone to lower concentration. There is a spiritual and a physical dimension to the fast. It doesn’t do you any good to not have the kinds of food that are prohibited and forgo the period of introspection and deep contemplation of your own spiritual state.

Theosis is what happens to those who run the earthly course successfully and are given their salvation at the end of this life. Fasting plays a role in theosis. It is the process by which we are perfected and made divine. We all become little “anointed ones,” little Christs.