The Mandatory Fast for Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics during the Great Fast (Lent) (Your jurisdiction might be different, consult your priest or bishop):
---Strict Fast (no meat, dairy) on Pure Monday (today, Monday before Roman-rite Ash Wednesday) and on Great and Holy Friday
---Simple Fast (no meat) on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast and Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday
For Those Wishing to Follow the Ancient Fasting Regimen
---No Meat from Sunday of Meatfare (2 Sundays before Lent begins) till Easter Sunday
---No Dairy or Eggs from Sunday of Cheesefare (Sunday before Lent begins) until Easter Sunday
--- No fish, oil, wine with exceptions- click on the OCA website for exceptions
Of course, there are medical and age exceptions. Consult a faithful priest
In my last post 'Lent is all about food,' someone questioned why the Byzantine Catholic fast is so un-Orthodox- because even if our authority comes ultimately from Rome making us Catholic, the Byzantine spirituality is Eastern which makes us Orthodox. If you read above, the requirements for our Lent are not so strict. Why is it not more in line with traditional fasting? I have some ideas.
1. The various Byzantine Catholic jurisdictions want to have more control over the fast. When the fast is a traditional 'black' fast, there are still many people who will need dispensations from parts of it for various reasons. Perhaps the bishops want to keep the fast more consistent with the believers and reduce the parish priests' 'power' to give dispensations.
Can a priest give dispensation to eat meat on a day of fasting or abstinence? Not just any priest, but your own parish priest has the jurisdiction to dispense you. Dispensations should not be refused the faithful, except in grave necessity. The point of a dispensation is the self-denial of the will that a Christian must practice by approaching their spiritual father.
2. When the traditional fasting is performed, there might be nothing more that a typical lay person can do to commemorate the season. With the fasting restrictions along with dietary concerns and young people in the family, it would be quite difficult for the typical housewife to supplement her fast with a personal sacrifice not in the official fasting guidelines. The relatively easy fasting guidelines make it possible to add something personal to the fast.
Should we limit our self-denial to obligatory fast days? Although the Church has greatly relaxed the obligation to fast and abstain, Christians should do so of their own free will, when and if they are able. More important than food, we need to control our other desires through other types of self-denial. Abstaining from sin is the goal of physical self-denial. In addition, read Fr Kurt Burnett's take on some Lenten questions.
3. The fasting guidelines of the various Byzantine Catholic churches are, as usual, between the requirements of the Roman-rite and the Orthodox churches. Maybe we are called to be the thorn in the side of both...
4. My husband thinks I am really silly about this one....I think the relaxed official requirements help with possible problems of scrupulosity. It is probably just me, but if I were obligated to refrain from oil during the Great Fast, I would wonder- 'should I stir in all that oil in my almond butter or drain it? What's the difference between some olive oil on my vegan salad and the almond oil?' So, while I would be obedient to my church in terms of guidelines, I am glad that I am free to eat any vegetable product I want. And as for scrupulosity, we all need holy spiritual fathers and mothers to help us through that.
Click on the 'Lent' and 'fasting' labels below for more posts on this subject
Go to In Union With Rome for lots of links