RELIGION LIBRARY

Eastern Orthodoxy

Rituals and Worship

Fasting is strict by western standards. Devout Orthodox Christians abstain from meat, fish, dairy, wine, and oil, while others might practice different kinds of fasts, less severe, throughout the year. Married couples will abstain from sex, instead devoting themselves to prayer. Dispensation is granted to those who are physically unable to withstand the deprivations of fasting, such as pregnant and nursing mothers, the very young and the very old, the sick, and those who don't control their diets, such as prisoners and soldiers. Orthodoxy normally relaxes the fast on feast days that occur during the Great Fasts, such as on the Feast of the Transfiguration, which falls during the Dormition Fast.

The repetitive rhythms of feast and fast throughout the calendar year conspire to create a sense of timelessness, connecting the believer to the communion of saints and enfolding the believer in the love of the eternal God.


Study Questions:
1.     Why is Eastern Orthodoxy a liturgical faith?
2.     How do Eastern Orthodoxy’s rituals transform time?
3.     What are some of Eastern Orthodoxy’s liturgical holidays? When do they occur?
4.     Describe the process of fasting. How does it create sacred time?

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