A Time of Preparation
Surprise it is that time of year again! Last Sunday it was Christ the King for Byzantine Catholics, which reminded me that it’s time to start thinking about preparing for Christmas. Preparing to prepare… that’s how prepared we are!
Advent vs Nativity Fast
In the Byzantine Catholic Church the time preparing for Christmas is called the Nativity Fast. Also, we call Christmas “Feast of the Nativity.” Roman Catholics call this time Advent. The Nativity Fast starts November 15th while this year Advent begins on December 2nd. Liturgical colours in the Roman Rite are purple for advent (and pink/rose on Gaudete Sunday). In the Byzantine Churches, red is used for the duration of the fast.
As the name suggests, Byzantine Catholics fast during the Nativity Fast. This includes abstaining from meat and dairy, and in some cases also from fish (that have backbones), oil, and alcohol. As with the RC rules of fasting, very ill people, young children, and pregnant/nursing women are exempt.
One other fun fact about the Nativity Fast is that it is sometimes also called St. Philip’s fast. This is because our advent period starts the day after St. Phillip’s feast day instead of the Sunday after Christ the King.
How You Can Celebrate The Nativity Fast
Fast Meal Plan
A little disclaimer – I am not comfortable in the kitchen! I am still getting used to cooking regular simple meals. So I have not tried very many fasting friendly dishes… but I know someone who has. Check out ByziMom’s blog for Byzantine Fast-Friendly recipes!
If you fall under one of the exceptions from fasting, try to give up some other luxury for the duration of the fast.
Ever wonder why most of the advent calendars you can buy are full of chocolate? How does that fit in with fasting? Well, obviously it doesn’t – and even more so because chocolate is a dairy product! So here at TheByzantineLife.com we made a printable where children can colour in a star daily for 24 days leading up to the Feast of the Nativity. They are supposed to choose an Act of Mercy for each day and colour the star in based on which type of merciful act they do. A list of the Acts of Mercy and suggestions for each type are included in our printable.
Also this year between November 1, 2018 and January 6, 2019, this printable is available to download for free! Check it out here.
Slow Life Down
Finally, minimize your outside responsibilities this month. Don’t feel pressured to make it to all the Christmas events and craft fairs and all the other busyness going on. A great way to honour the season this Nativity Fast is to slow life down. Take the time to prepare your heart for Jesus.
This Nativity Fast I want to read Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth The Infancy Narratives to Little Fox. I’ve read it before but I think it really fits with the season and I need to read aloud to Little Fox more. It will help slow both our lives down. Actually little children are great for encouraging you to live in the moment!
What do you do to slow life down? Let me know in the comments!