CopticChurch.net Dictionary of Church Terms
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Fasting
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Fasting, which was practised in Judaism and by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, was recommended by Christ both by example and teaching (Luke 4:2; Matt. 6:16- 18 and Mark 2:20). It was observed by the Apostles (Acts 13:2; 14:23; 2 Cor. 11:27), and in the early Church fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays was mentioned in the Didache.

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In early times fasting meant the entire abstention from food for the whole or part of the day. In the Coptic Orthodox Church it is still observed with considerable strictness.The ancient rules continue to be followed by us, no meat being eaten, nor animal products (eggs, milk, butter, cheese), and fish only on certain fastings.

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Our Lord, Jesus Christ fasted for our sake 40 days.

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The Church arranged fastings as follows: 1- Lent, for fifty-five days. 2- Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays (except during the fifty days following the Resurrection). 3- Paramone fasting (the day before Christmas and Epiphany). 4- Christmas fasting, fourty-three days. 5- Apostles fasting. 6- Jonah fasting, for three days. 7- The Virgin's fasting, for fifteen days.

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Fasting is presented to God alone. It should be accompanied by repentance.

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As a penitential practice, fasting is designed to strengthen the spiritual life by weakening the attractions of sensible pleasure. The Lord Himself coupled it with prayer, and in the lives of the saints the two almost always go together.

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Believer can practice private fasting under the guidance of his spiritual father. He also may not practice all the church fastings, with special permission from the priest under certain terms.

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