Lenten Fasting Regulations 2002
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Fathers and Faithful:
We must realize that without fasting, there is no Lent! To that end, the Fathers of the Church established in ancient times through their collective experience the guidelines for Lenten Fasting. Essentially, the rule of the Church for Lent is to "Strict Fast" -abstaining from meat and dairy products from the First Monday of Lent until Pascha. This time includes both Saturdays and Sundays, which in the Orthodox reckoning are considered apart of Lent, unlike the reckoning of the Western Churches. To those who are able, we wholeheartedly recommend that they partake of this practice as much as they are able.
On the other hand, the Fathers of the Church have also put forth that alight and steady rule that is kept is preferable to a difficult one that is soon broken and forgotten. With the realization that not everyone is able to strict fast for the whole of Lent, I am setting forth the following lighter rule for those who are unable for whatever reason to keep the maximum regulation of the Church. This rule is intended as a guide that one can follow and still be able to say that he or she is keeping the spirit of Lent.
Monday, March 18, the first day of Lent, is a day of strict fast, and both meat and dairy products are to be excluded from one's diet. All the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, as is Holy Week April 29 -May 4.
Good Friday, May 3 and Holy Saturday, May 4 are days of strict fast, and both meat and dairy products are to be excluded from one's diet.
It is hoped that everyone will examine his or her conscience and lifestyle, and fast in a way that will be spiritually beneficial without passing judgment on the fasting of another. We must recall the words of St. Paul to the Romans:
"He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks, and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himselj; and no one dies to himself For if we live, we live to the Lord,. and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:6-8)
With my Archpastoral prayer that all ofus will use the Lenten Season of fasting and prayer wisely to renew our life in the Lord and give thanks to Him, I remain
Most sincerely yours in Christ,
This Archpastoral Letter is to be read together with the Lenten Pastoral Letter in lieu of the sermon in all churches of the Diocese on Sunday, March 17, 2002