When we speak about fasting it is misleading to focus only on the element of weariness and hunger. Fasting leads, not merely to this, but also to a sense of lightness, wakefulness, freedom, and joy.
Even if the fast proves debilitating at first, afterwards we find that it enables us to sleep less, to think more clearly, and to work more decisively. While involving genuine self-denial, fasting does not seek to do violence to our body but rather to restore it to health and equilibrium.
Fasting liberates our body from the burden of excessive weight and makes it a willing partner in the task of prayer, alert and responsive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Fasting is essentially an exercise in self-discipline. In the Orthodox tradition, fasting is the refrain from meat and dairy products (veganism) on various days and times throughout the year.
Orthodox fasting seasons*
– Most Wednesdays and Fridays
– Nativity lent, November 15-December 24
– Great Lent and Holy week, forty days before Pascha (changes every year)
– The Feast of Peter and Paul (changes every year)
– The Feast of Virgin Mary, August 1-August 14
It is the constant vigilance of self, from what you eat, to what you think, say, and feel towards others. The lightening of our body clears our focus for prayer and healing, awakening our spiritual antennas to the clarity and grace of the Holy Spirit.
A deer’s antlers – also known as spiritual antennas – allow them to connect to higher energies. Deer are gentle, acute, sensitive animals that teach us to be strong in our path.
The catch? We are the boss of this entire operation. We have the final say on who we are and how we choose to be (#VoiceandChoice). Upholding ourselves to our highest self, deepens and realigns us with our truest essence.
Lent disciplines the timely to refocus the eternal. In this discipline, we find spiritual freedom.
Wishing you all a blessed Nativity fast! xo
*Note that the primary Orthodox fasts are in the winter and spring, in sync with the rhythm of the seasons.