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How to Fast 


By The Rev. Canon Glenn Spencer

Rector, All Saints Anglican Church

Fasting is ancient, Christian, and required of all confirmed members of the Anglican Church, being an intentional discipline of one’s appetites for the sake of self-mastery and greater acts of devotion to God in prayer and good works. The Church is specific as to the time and manner:

1. All Fridays of the year, in commemoration of our Lord’s Passion, and Ash Wednesday require both fasting and abstinence.

2. Abstinence means that no meat should be eaten. Meat has traditionally been understood to be the flesh of mammals or fowl. Traditionally fish are permitted. Foods derived from animals like milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are permitted. Children, infirm folk, pregnant or nursing mothers, manual labors, as well as guests at meals are excluded from abstinence. Otherwise one must use one’s own judgment or consult a priest to determine what is appropriate in your particular case.

3. The Forty Days of Lent, as well as the Ember Days of the Four Seasons require fasting. Fasting means that one eats one full meal in order to maintain one’s strength and health and two smaller meals during the day. Once again fasting should be adjusted to one’s duties, recreation, and one’s physical state in life.


4. Snacking in between meals breaks the fast, therefore snacking should be eliminated during fasts. Alcohol does not break a fast, but alcohol seems contrary to the very spirit of fasting and penance.

5. The point is not to harm one’s self but to take control of one’s appetites rather than permitting one’s appetites to control one’s self. But any deprivation of a good that hinders one from carrying out one’s office, duties, in whatever state of life one inhabits is contrary to the will of God.

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