Monday, April 19, 2010

When Does the Fast Begin?

Q & A with Fr Job, installment VI:
Question: The Church day begins at six o’clock on the evening. When should one begin to fast, for instance, for Wednesday: at six in the evening on Tuesday? And it ends when -- at six o’clock Wednesday? Or does it begin with the new 24-hour period at 0:00 Wednesday and end at 24:00 Wednesday?

Answer: The Church day begins in the evening. Not at six o’clock, but with the beginning of the assigned service of the daily cycle: Vespers. The New Testament Church took this from the ancient Jews, whose days lasted from the setting of the sun on the first day until the setting of the sun on the following day (c.f., Ex. 12:18; Lev. 23:32). The foundation for this was the account of the days of creation in the book of Genesis: And the evening and the morning were the first day (Gen 1:5). For the Greeks the boundary of the day was midnight. In distinction to the liturgical day, the fast begins and ends at midnight.


Chocolatesa said...

Thank you! I had always wondered this :)

matslacker said...

Forgive my density, but which is it? When does the fast begin? Fr Job says that the *day* begins in the evening but, in his final sentence, says that, per Greek tradition, the *fast* begins at midnight. So, following his final sentence, am I to understand that the fast goes from 0:00 to 24:00? Or that it goes from evening to evening, with the caviat that the Greeks do it differently? I recall that this is the very issue which prompted the phrase "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." So perhaps there is no clear instruction? Or perhaps I misread Fr Job's reply. Thanks.

John said...

No, he mentioned the (pagan) Greeks as a contrast with the Jews. The Jews considered the day to begin with sunset, the Greeks considered it to begin with midnight.
His final sentence says that the fast is from midnight to midnight.