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Fasting as an Ecclesiastical Notion

The Greek word for fasting, “νηστεία”, is complex. It consists of the particle “νη”, which indicates deprivation, and the verb “εσθίω”, which means “eating”. So the Greek word for fasting means total abstinence from all food. Today, however, fasting means abstaining from certain foods. This led to the creation of two words: νηστήσιμος (pro-fasting) and αρτύσιμος (non-fasting). That is, there are foods we can eat during a fast which are called νηστήσιμες, and there are foods we can’t eat which are called αρτύσιμες.

Fasting According to the Church Fathers

The holy fathers and teachers of the Church, having proved by their own experience the beneficence of fasting, zealously inspired, agree with the teaching of Holy Scripture about fasting (Gen. 2:17; Ex. 4:28; Lev. 16:29-30, 2:27-2; Deut. 9:9, 18, 2; 2 Kings 12:16; 3 Kings 19:6-8, 21:27; 2 Chr. 20:3; 1 Esdras 1:4, 8:21, 9:3; […]

Saint Isaac the Syrian on Fasting

The man who during his whole life loves the conversation of this yoke-mate fasting is a friend of chastity. Just as the satisfaction of the belly is the source of all evils, and as the slackness of sleep kindles tbe lust of fornication, so fasting, vigil, and wakefulness in God’s service by withstanding the sweetness […]

Saint Dorotheos of Gaza: On the Holy Lenten Fast

In the Law, God laid down that the sons of Israel should each year give tithes of all they possessed, and if they did so they were blessed in all their works. The holy Apostles, knowing this to be for the help and advancement of our souls, resolved to fulfil it in a better and […]

From the Desert Fathers’ Wisdom: on Fasting

1. A certain demoniac once went to Sketis. He was not cured, however, even though he spent a long time there, since the Fathers declined, out of extreme humility, to heal him. But one of the Elders, taking pity on him, made the sign of the Cross over the demoniac and at once the man […]

About Spiritual Training and Fasting by Saint Nektarios of Aegina

Spiritual training (pneumatike gymnasia) is askesis for peity. It is most valuable, “having promise for the life that now is, and for that which is to come.” The efforts made for the sake of piety bring spiritual gladness. Theophylaktos says: “Train yourself for piety, that is, for pure faith and the right life. Training, then, […]


The commemoration of the Dormition of the Theotokos and the preparation for the Feast begin on August 1 with a period of fasting (August 1-14). A strict fast is followed on most of the days (no meat, dairy, oil, or wine), with the exceptions of fish on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and […]