The Nativity Fast begins on Thursday, November 15. That may seem like a ways off, but it will be here before we know it, so we need to start planning now in order to take full advantage of all that the season will offer. This Fast is divided into two periods: The first is November 15th through December 19th when the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and olive oil) is observed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a blessing for wine and olive oil (some also permit fish) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for fish, wine, and olive oil on Saturdays and Sundays. The second is the period of the Forefeast, December 20th through 24th, when the traditional fasting discipline is observed Monday through Friday, with a blessing for wine and olive oil on Saturday and Sunday. If you need to modify the fast in any way, now is the time to make those arrangements with your spiritual father.
During the Nativity Fast, we will be offering the Nativity Paraclesis each Wednesday evening at 7pm. The service lasts about 45 minutes, so, by Orthodox standards, it’s really brief. Because of the way the Liturgical Calendar works out this year, we will only be offering the service four times during the fast, but there’s no reason why each of us cannot participate in at least one of those services before December 25. If we do, our celebration of Nativity and the Circumcision and the Presentation and Theophany will be that much more profound.
Our archdiocese expects that each of us will make our confession before December 25. That Holy Mystery is offered each Saturday evening following Great Vespers or by specific appointment at just about any other time. We don’t do ‘on-the-spot’ confessions, but we will do our very best to accommodate anyone who plans ahead.