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The Coptic Church - Fasting

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The Coptic Church is an ascetic church that believes in the power of fasting in the life of the believers. Fasting is not considered a physical exercise, but rather it is an offering of inward love offered by the heart as well as the body. "man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord..." Deut. 8:3, Matt. 4:4.

The Lord, Himself, the Word Incarnate, fasted before undergoing trial and undertaking His ministry on our behalf. We therefore fast with Him to attain victory and blessings at work, and to be able to proceed in the spirit and not according to the flesh (Rom. 8: 1). The Lord fasted for forty days (Matt. 4:2) to transfigure in the midst of Moses and Elijah who also fasted for forty days (Exod. 40:28; 1 Kings 19:8). In this way He declared that fasting is not deprivation, neither is it a restraint upon the body. The church requires us to fast and abstain from food for a period of time to experience hunger. The Lord Himself experienced hunger (Matt. 4:2) though He is the source of all satisfaction, physical and spiritual. The apostles experienced hunger as they fasted (Acts 10:1; 2 Cor. 11:27).


The Weekly fast: Just as the church practices worship weekly, it also practices general fasting weekly. This has its origin in the Jewish Church. Jews were accustomed to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, as on these two days Moses went up to receive the commandments and descended the mountain carrying the two stone tablets. Since the apostolic age, the Church has been aware of the value of fasting and designated Wednesdays and Fridays as days for fasting. This is done in memory of Christ's betrayal and crucifixion.

The Great Lent: The Coptic Church fasts for fifty five days (forty day [Lent]; eight days [Holy Week] and seven days instead of the seven Saturdays which are not observed with complete abstention. Fasting before Christmas: It is a spiritual preparation to receive the birth of Christ. It lasts for forty days plus three days in memory of the general fast observed by the copts in Egypt during the reign of Al Moiz when EI-Muqattarn Mountain was moved.

The Fast of the Apostles: This begins on the day following Pentecost and continues until the feast of the martyrs, St. Peter and St. Paul, on the fifth of Abib ( July 12th). The aim of this fasting period is to fill the soul with passion to preach the Word with an apostolic thought.

The Fast of Nineveh: This lasts for three days. It refers to Jonah's fast, while he was inside the whale's belly.

The Fast of the Holy Virgin: This takes place fifteen days before the celebration of the Holy Virgin Mary feast, from August 7 through August 22 (16th of Misra)).

Fasting on Epiphany Eve (Paramoun) this fast is observed immediately before this feast.


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