The Great and Holy Lenten Fast

Modern science sees the value of the Church’s tradition of fasting

From Old Testament times, the people of God prepared for holy occasions with fasting and prayer, and the New Testament continued with this holy tradition. The Lord Himself fasted for forty days before beginning His earthly ministry, demonstrating the importance of fasting before starting any spiritual task. Christ even went so far as saying “When you fast” (Matt. 6:16), rather than If you fast. Our Lord told his disciples that “when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then they shall fast”. If we are to overcome evil, the Lord Jesus Christ said we must pray and fast, for the devil and his foul spirits depart not out but by prayer and fasting. Since prayer and fasting are seen as two weapons for us to do battle, how foolish we would be to use only one weapon, for what soldier would enter a battle field with only one weapon at his disposal.

The scriptures document, throughout, the importance of fasting for the health of the soul, and the Church has established fasting periods that actually total up to about half of the year, averaging about 180 days, when added all together. Each section of the Church calendar has particular periods of fasting, with the winter fast before Christmas; the spring fast of Great Lent; the summer Apostles fast; and the fall Dormition fast. Throughout the rest of the year, we Orthodox Christians observe two days of fasting per week, with Wednesdays and Fridays given over as fast days. We even see the Church assigning special fast days that are connected with individuals feasts such as the Eve of Theophany, the Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner, and the Elevation of the Holy Cross.

Modern science has come to see that the spiritual discipline of the Church’s fasting rules promotes good health, for avoiding meat and dairy products two days per week, help keep animal fats and related cholesterol problems under control. Our contemporary medicine has discovered nothing new, for the Church has known the value of fasting for thousands of years. And this fasting, when wholly embraced, helps us empty ourselves while making way for the grace that is abundant during the fast periods, to bring about transformation of the soul.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday March 16, 2019 / March 3, 2019
First Saturday of the Great Lent. Tone eight.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
Great Martyr Theodore Tyro (306) (movable holiday on Saturday of the 1st week of the Great Lent).
Martyr Eutropius of Amasea, and with him Martyrs Cleonicus and Basiliscus (308).
Virgin-martyr Martha and martyr Michael (1938).
Venerable Piama, virgin (337).
Sts. Zeno and Zoilus.
“Volokolamsk” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1572).
St. Alexandra, of Alexandria (4th c.).
St. Caluppan of Auvergne (576) (Gaul).
St. Non, mother of St. David of Wales (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Winwaloe of Brittany (530) (Celtic & British).
St. John (Chrysostom) IV, the Catholicos of Georgia (1049) (Georgia).
Hieromartyr Theodoretus, Priest of Antioch (361-363) (Greek).

Scripture Readings

Hebrews 1:1-12

God’s Supreme Revelation

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

The Son Exalted Above Angels

5 For to which of the angels did He ever say:

“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?

And again:

“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?

6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:

“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

7 And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”

8 But to the Son He says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

10 And:

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.”

Mark 2:23-3:5

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Healing on the Sabbath

3 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. Unfortunately, the church has “dumbed-down” what it means to fast, I suppose in an attempt to get the affluent western world to do any type of self denial. All throughout church history fasting meant obstaining from ALL foods. I myself when first becoming Orthodox would eat as much or more food on fast days as I did on non-fast days, which is very much the temptation of the current fasting regulations. 😢

    1. To Fast is to subtract foods, not substitute.
      Fast is a time to tend to the poor and not your own riches.
      My granddaughter skipped Saturday cartoons and visited an institutionalized granny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *