We’ve been sharing so much knowledge about the Coptic Orthodox church on this blog, and recently, we discussed the sacrament of confession, and it was a very informative discussion. Today, we are going to discuss another important sacrament of the Coptic Orthodox church.
Fasting is an essential practice in the Coptic Orthodox church observed according to the Coptic calendar. Fasting, like other sacraments of the Coptic Orthodox church, was first practiced by the Lord Jesus Christ. In Saint Matthew’s gospel chapter 4 and verses 1 and 2, Jesus Christ was led of God’s Spirit to fast for 40 days, and because of the fast, he was able to overcome the tempter. The tempter is still lurking around these days and fasting helps the Coptic Christian to subdue him, just as Jesus Christ did.
If you are just reading up about Coptic Orthodox Christians and you happened to stumble on this article, then you must know that fasting is central to the life of all Coptic Orthodox Christians. Coptic Orthodox Christians fast for about 180 days to 210 days every year for reasons ranging from spiritual to physical and symbolic purposes. Coptic fasting follows a vegan diet, i.e., there is abstinence from meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and other animal products.
Many people do not seem to understand the importance of fasting as a sacrament of the Coptic Orthodox church. To create a perfect understanding of the importance of fasting, it is imperative to go down memory lane.
When the first man, Adam, fell, he exposed all of us to carnality, and we lost paradise and its benefits. Therefore, to regain paradise and its benefits, it is vital to shun carnal practices. Fasting is an excellent way to avoid carnal practices as it lowers every inch of ourselves and elevates God in our lives. When God is elevated in our lives, our fellowship with him will become heightened, and we get to enjoy the benefits of paradise.
You see, as we live our daily lives, the tempter does not want to see us living victoriously; he wants us to remain subject to our addictions and our weaknesses so that they can continue to be obstacles in our relationship with God. Fasting helps us overcome our failures and habits, and opens our heart for repentance.
Fasting for any Coptic Orthodox Christian is more than just a physical exercise, but one with a great deal of impact on our spiritual lives.
A few typical fasts observed by the Coptic Orthodox church include:
1. Fast of the Advent – This fast lasts for 40 days before the nativity of Christ on January 7, and is usually observed between Nov 25 – January 6. This fast is significant to the 40 days fast observed by Moses on the mount.
2. Fast of Nineveh – This fast is significant to the three days Christ spent in the tomb and Jonah’s mission to Nineveh. It is usually observed for two weeks before the beginning of Lent.
Other fasts include: Fast of Great Lent, Fast of Holy Week, Fast of the Apostles, Fast of the Domitian of the Mother of God.