THE APOSTLES FAST or “POST-PENTECOST REBOOT”
(Monday, June 12)
The “Apostles’ Fast” or “Petrovsky Post” (“Peter’s Fast,” as we call it in Russian) begins today, on the Monday right after All Saints Sunday, which completed the liturgical season of Pascha-to-Pentecost. The name of this fast implies that it is meant to prepare us for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29 (NC) or July 12 (OC), as the fast *before* this feast. But its original meaning was to provide us with some fasting *after* Pentecost; after a long period of “not fasting” between Pascha and Pentecost. So, the logic behind this fast is originally not that of keeping a sort of prolonged vigil or vigilance *before* a feast, (which would be strange, in the case of the relatively minor feast of Apostles, – no offence to the great Peter and Paul), but that of a “reboot” of our spiritual and physical focus *after* a long period of feasting. It’s good for us, and it is time, for us to be gathered up into the discipline of a fasting period now, because we easily may have wandered away from any spiritual focus in the many weeks since Lent ended.
The Gospel-reading for this Monday, when we embrace the food-discipline of this fast (abstaining from meat and dairy products, which takes some meal-planning), reminds us to do so in faith and not fear: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt 6:31-33) When we place “seeking the kingdom of God” first, as the primary purpose of our fasting, then our faith in God will become stronger and healthier, and the externals of our fasting-discipline will also be healthier, free of needless “worry” and obsessiveness. Because worry and obsessiveness come from a lack of faith in God, and in the simple fact that God is good; that He is more than willing to be good to us, if we let Him, and wants us also to be good to ourselves and one another. Our fasting-discipline is not a way for us to be bad to ourselves, contrary to a popular misconception, but a way to be extra-mindful of ourselves, both physically and spiritually. At the end of this Gospel-reading, our Lord reminds us of this, by assuring us that God is a good Father, Who, just as we give “good gifts” to our children, will give us “good things” when we seek His goodness in faith: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” So let us let God be good to us, this fasting season, and let us be good to ourselves and one another, both physically and spiritually. For more on “healthy fasting,” check out our “HealthyFast” Lenten Guidebook, which has health-tips, meal-plans and recipes, prepared with certified nutritionist Denise Canellos.