Year of Youth 2018

Advent: Fasting During Advent?

Last edited 29th September 2017

Fasting During Advent?

The Advent season is a time to prepare for Christmas and so Maronites take this time seriously. Maronites are a Christian group who follow the Syriac Maronite Church and are part of the Eastern Catholic rite. They are founded by St Maroun who comes from Mount Lebanon (mainly in the area of modern Lebanon) and are in full communion with the Pope and Catholic Church.

In the Maronite church, Advent is called ‘The Season of the Glorious Birth of the Lord’ and goes for 7 weeks including Christmas rather than 4 weeks which is the length of the Roman Rite Advent season.

I have always followed the Western Roman Rite with 4 weeks of Advent with a wreath being presented at church with 4 candles, with a new colour candle lit each week.

However, last year in 2016, I decided to give the Maronite way of celebrating Advent a go. It was really challenging for me as a week before Advent started the priests in the Maronite church would constantly encourage fasting and abstinence, a new experience for me. It wasn’t until my confessor and spiritual father, Fr Tannious mentioned fasting in his homily and highlighted the benefits that I really considered fasting/abstinence. He also encouraged prayer during this season to prepare for the birth of Jesus. He made sure the whole congregation put their hands up to commit to fast. Therefore, I decided to give up something during Advent, I gave up Mcdonald’s and tried to fast 12 days before Christmas. In all Eastern Churches, there is a traditional fast that applies to advent and usually for Maronites it is twelve days before Christmas (Dec 13-24) where you fast 12 hrs (12am to 12pm). In the Maronite tradition there are also special prayers prayed each week of Advent (mainly the Hoosoyo).The Hoosoyo is the opening prayer and the prayer of forgiveness for the season of Advent.

Below is the structure of the readings for every week of the Advent season in the Maronite Liturgy over the 7 weeks;

1. Announcement to Zechariah – Lk 1:1-25
2. Announcement to Mary – Lk 1:26-38
3. Visitation of Mary – Lk 1:39-45
4. Birth of John the Baptist – Lk 1:57-66
5. Revelation to Joseph – Mt 1:18-25
6. Genealogy of Jesus – Mt 1:1-17
7. Birth of the Lord – Lk 2:1-20

Preparing for Advent in the Maronite way was a fruitful experience, it was beneficial for my spiritual life in many ways. I was able to control my bad habit of eating junk food, I ate healthier and was able to focus more on prayer. After the season of Advent was over, I felt like a new person, I was renewed in faith, love and hope.
I would definitely recommend Fasting during Advent to prepare yourself for the Birth of our Lord on Christmas.

Viewed (473)    Commented (0)