The Nativity Fast
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
The Nativity Fast begins on November 27 and continues until the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Nativity, January 7. The Holy Orthodox Church prescribes this Fast as a time of preparation.
The Fast is not only for bishops, priests, deacons, monks and monastics. The Fast is for all believers in the Orthodox Church. The Fast is to be honored and respected each of the days for the full period of time. The Fast is to be approached with joyful anticipation.
Just as athletes approach training camp or military recruits approach basic or advanced training programs, serious Orthodox Christians approach the Fasts of the Church as opportunities for spiritual renewal and growth, for growth in Jesus Christ.
There are no short cuts to growth in Jesus Christ. There are no short cuts to the Kingdom f Heaven. From the time of Holy Baptism to the time of departure from this life, Orthodox Christians are expected to honor the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church.
God is a forgiving and loving God. God is a merciful God. Incomparable joy is found in God. Incomparable joy is found in living the life in Christ. Incomparable joy comes by the grace and mercy of God.
Fulfillment comes in the life in Christ. Completeness is found in the life in Christ. Nourishment is found in the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. Nourishment is found in the Holy Gospel.
The Nativity Fast provides the structure for life to be refocused, for renewal in Jesus Christ to take place. The Nativity Fast provides the opportunity to cast away the clutter that creeps into daily living. The Nativity Fast enables believers to return to the important direction for Christian living.
God gives each person twenty-four hours per day. Each person chooses how he or she will use the time. Each person determines the amount of time given to God each day. Each person determines the amount of time devoted to prayer and charitable works each day. Each person determines the degree he or she will live a Christian life each day.
The Church gives us Scriptural instruction each day. The Church provides for religious services and prayers for each day. The Church puts before us the lives of saints each day.
Each person chooses whether he or she will be attentive to the teachings of the Church. Each person chooses whether he or she will open the Holy Bible and read it. Each person chooses whether he or she will observe the Nativity Fast each day.
Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us when we fast, to fast in secret. (Mt. 6:18) Fasting is an effort to improve the condition of our souls. Fasting is an effort to be a better Christian. Fasting is an effort to recapture the joy of the life in Christ.
The Nativity Fast is the time of preparation leading the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. It is a deliberate journey set forth by the Church, a journey in and with the Church.
With God's help and a serious approach, the Nativity Fast is a time of enrichment, a time of renewal, a time of love for Jesus Christ.
May the Nativity Fast of 2002 be a time of joyful anticipation for each Orthodox Christian. As we move forward through the days of the Fast, let us be conscious of the words that change the world, the words that are proclaimed each Feast of the Nativity: "For God is with us! Mighty God, Eternal Ruler, Prince of Peace!"