Fasting is an important practice in the Orthodox spiritual life. One may say without exaggeration, in fact, that genuine spiritual growth and progress are, in the teachings of the Holy Church Fathers who constitute a living expression of Orthodox Tradition, impossible without the attainment of some level of accomplishment in the discipline of fasting. Victory over the forces of evil and the ascent to union with God begins, as Christ Himself taught, with prayer and fasting.
Orthodox Christians fast on most Wednesday’s and Friday’s from meat, fish, dairy products, wine and oil. They also maintain long periods of fasting before such Feast Days as the Nativity and Pascha. In fact, an Orthodox Christian who fails to follow these fasts is excluded from Communion and indeed, any clergyman who dares to violate these fasts technically deposes himself by rich negligence.
Given the centrality of fasting then, in Orthodox Patristic teaching and in the daily life of the Orthodox Christians, it is essential that we understand why and how we fast. — Backcover
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