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Inter-ecclesial meaning on the word fasting
Question from Bob Flummerfelt, J.C.L. on 9/26/2002:

Anthony,

Slava Isusu Krystu!

As always, you are A+ and such a gift to us all! May God grant you many more Blessed Years!

I was reading through your answers recently and noticed your response regarding fasting which caused me to reflect on something that my pastor recently told me. My Ruthenian pastor explained that the Byzantine understanding of fasting is different from the Latin understanding. This was news to me, as I understand the word 'fast' on a specific day to mean one meal and two smaller collations during the day which combined together are not more than the one meal (which immediately one notes the legalism of such a concept and must realize the Latin characteristics). My pastor explained to the contrary that the traditional Byzantine understanding of 'fast' means to abstain from meat solely, or as the Latin Church would call it: abstinence. I mentioned to him the word abstinence and he said that this was a Latin word, which after reflection I agree with. In addition, I recall a distinction being made between strict fast and simple fast, although the word abstinence was usually included with strict fast I recall in my Ukrainian experiences.

Being trained as a Latin canonist, even though I am Ukrainian Catholic I was unaware of this distinction. Note that being Ukrainian Catholic has not always been the easiest, as I have noticed here in the U.S. unfortunately that we have still many hurdles to jump over regarding Latinization as opposed to the Ruthenians who are returning to our authentic Byzantine roots much quicker.

Any light you could shed on this distinction would be much appreciated.

I like to use precise terminology and it appears that the uses I have noted have lacked that necessary precision or at least the meaning behind the words was not always the same.

Peace and best wishes, Bob Flummerfelt, J.C.L. Las Vegas, Nevada

Answer by Anthony Dragani on 9/27/2002:

Slava Na Viki!

Bob,

As usual, it is a joy to hear from you. As it was explained to me, "fast" in Byzantine terminology means no meat products. However, in some periods of history "meat" was defined very broadly to include even eggs and some kinds of fish. Today it suffices to abstain from meat.

"Strict fast," in contrast, means no meat, eggs, or dairy products. Traditionally, this would also exclude all animal products and oils.

God Bless, Anthony

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