Most Christians know that it is not allowed to eat meat during the fast. But that’s not quite exact definition. It turns out that with some exceptions for the most part of week during the Great Fast the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church … allows to eat meat. So what is the right way to fast, then? The answer to this question is offered by Fr. Andriy Stadnytskyy, the Head of the Catechetical Commission of Kyiv-Galician Supreme Archbishopric of the UGCC.
The fast assigned by the Church and the fast assigned by a person can differ. It looks like a vegetarian should not be afraid of fasting at all. Thus the Church puts some limits but we can still add something to it on our own. The Church doesn’t say «eat meat», but just says: these rules are obligatory and you try to take some more fasting on your initiative.
Читай українською: ЩО МОЖНА І ЩО НЕ МОЖНА ЇСТИ В ПІСТ
Up to the present day the people in villages have strict rules of fasting, especially older generation. Youth and middle-age people remember those directions but do they follow them? Therefore the Church introduces some mitigation but at the same time continues to keep the limitation. It aims at having not a utopian impracticable law but the applicable one and simultaneously offers a person possibility to impose on himself some additional fast.
If you in your family have agreed not to eat meat for the whole fast it is good, it’s an extra bonus for each of you.
Men usually say: we work heavily – how can we do without meat? How? Normally! But people can survive without it! Meat is not the main product giving you nutrition. There are other protein foods.
My friend from Kolomyja and his wife decided to have only bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays for the whole year. Children were said that such abstinence is only for parents but children also adhered to it. It is realistic but sometimes people have too much pity for themselves; but a human being has a great potential.
The essence of fasting is not in meat since meat is a normal product. The thing is to develop in oneself the virtue of continence. Today I refuse meat – tomorrow I will be able to reject another passion that can appear inside of me, or some spiritual temptations.
The virtue of continence is among the most difficult ones. Since a person can also eat too much even with lean food.
Someone, as a form of fast, can refuse, for instance, social networks: enter only for 15 minutes in the evening and that’s it.
Why should one listen to music less? To free more time for spiritual reading. Eat less? To have resource for charity. You have saved on meat – take this money and direct for a good deed. You have saved time on social network – dedicate this time for the Bible reading or go to visit the sick, especially friends who need it. Liberating space from the things which always hinder us, free your time and material resources for good deeds – this is an interchangeable thing.
The essence of fast for us lies in trying to have closer union with Christ.
Penitential fasting practices, repentance and abstinence that aim to expiate the sins committed and to achieve a greater level of perfection for personal sanctity are the oldest tradition in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. (Canon 115 §1 of the Particular Law of the UGCC).
Canon 115 §2 of the Particular Law of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church imposes on all faithful the following obligations during the Great Fast:
- A strict fast is observed on the first day of the Great Fast and Passion Friday, i.e. abstention from meat and dairy products and eggs as well as foods that contain these ingredients.
- Abstention from all meat and foods containing meat is to be observed during the first week of the Great Fast and all days of Passion Week.
- During the Great Fast, abstention from the consumption of meat and meat products is to be observed on all Mondays, avoided Wednesdays and Fridays. All other foods are permitted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
6.3 of the same canon enumerates those who are dispensed from any obligation to fast: children up to 14 years of age; persons over 60 years of age; the gravely ill; pregnant women; postpartum mothers and those who are breastfeeding; those who are travelling (if the travel time exceeds eight hours); those engaged in heavy labour; those who eat from the table of others; the poor who live from charity.
Canon 115 §5 reminds: “On all fast days and dispensed weeks the faithful are obliged to refrain from organizing and participating in loud parties, celebratory [i.e. wedding] receptions, dances, entertainment and other similar events”.