The Philip’s Fast (Pylypivka), the pre-Christmas fast, begins today. The Church begins the Fast the day after the feast of the Holy and All-Praiseworthy Apostle Philip. The Fast is a period of 40 days of spiritual preparation for the celebration of the Nativity/Theophany cycle of the liturgical (Church) year.
Historically, the Philip’s Fast (Pylypivka) was a period of strict fasting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday –days of strict fasting without meat, dairy products or oil (in Slavic countries).
Now the bishops have indicated that the Fast is lessened a bit also to include fasting, works of penance and doing charitable work. BUT today we observe the Fast on Wednesdays and Fridays by an abstention from meat and foods that contain these ingredients.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church teaches her faithful that “Penitential fasting practices, repentance and abstinence that aim to satisfy the sins committed and to achieve the highest level of perfection is the oldest tradition in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church” (CCEO: 882, § 1).
Recall, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church maintains that “Abstention from meat and meat products is to be observed on all Fridays of the year except for compact weeks, patronal feasts and the twelve major feasts” (CCEO: 882, § 4).
Abstinence means that we do not eat a certain type of food, for example meat and oil, or any other foods that have that as an ingredient.
Fasting means that we eat less food. A general rule is that for a day of fast, the amount of food of the main meal is less than the other two meals combined.
Those exempt from fasting and abstinence are:
- Children under the age of 14
- Adults over the age of 60
- those who are gravely ill
- pregnant women
- post-partum mothers
- breast-feeding mothers
- travellers (if travel time exceeds 8 hours)
- those engaged in heavy labour
- those who eat from the table of others
- the poor who live from charity
On December 24, the Vigil of the Nativity, there is an abstention from meat, dairy and eggs, and foods that contain these ingredients.
When we arrive at the Nativity on December 25, until January 4, there is no fasting or abstinence.
We keep the Philip’s Fast because we believe that doing so it can help us to better understand and appreciate all of God’s saving plan for each of us.
At the Divine Liturgy you will notice that the priest will wear dark vestments as the norm for this penitential season with exception of Saturdays, Sundays and first class feasts.