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The Apostles Fast

The Apostles’ Fast begins on the Monday after Pentecost and lasts until the Feast of the Apostles on the 5th of Epep, 12th July. It varies in length from year to year. If the feast of the Resurrection occurs sooner, then the Apostle’s Fast is longer; if the Resurrection comes later, then the Apostle’s Fast is shorter. The fast of the Holy Apostles is very ancient, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. The oldest testimony regarding the Apostles Fast is given to us by St. Athanasius the Great. In his letter to Emperor Constance, in speaking of the persecution by the Arians, he writes: “During the week following Pentecost, the people who observed the fast went out to the cemetery to pray.” “The Lord so ordained it,” says St. Ambrose, “that as we have participated in his sufferings during the Forty Days, so we should also rejoice in his Resurrection during the season of Pentecost. We do not fast during the season of Pentecost since our Lord Himself was present amongst us during those days … Christ’s presence was like nourishing food for the Christians. So too, during Pentecost, we feed on the Lord who is present among us. On the days following his ascension into heaven, however, we again fast” (Sermon 61). St. Ambrose basis this practice on the words of Jesus concerning his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew 9:14, 15: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” The Apostles' Fast is the oldest fast and the first one kept by the Christian Church. During the Apostles' Fast, the Holy Spirit spoke to them, "As they ministered to the Lord and FASTED the Holy Spirit said separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:2-3). It was previously known as the “Fast of Pentecost” or the “Fast of the Disciples.” However, during the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., its name was changed to “Fast of the Apostles” which is carried through till today. The Apostles’ Fast is a great opportunity for one to be reminded of the works that the Holy Spirit performed through the Apostles, such as, St. Peter’s sermon, which converted approximately three thousand people. During Paul's preaching we have a man who fell asleep, fell off a building, but through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit; the man was brought back to life. Also, the many miracles of St. Peter and St. Paul that are remembered during this special time to motivate one’s spiritual struggle. The fast always terminates on Abib 5th because that is the day for the commemoration of the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul. Although their lives on earth ended on that day, their work on earth is perpetuated by Christians. We must preach as they preached. The account of their lives always proves to be inspirational; their struggles are encouraging. Their lives are indeed a model for every Christian. Their faith was steadfast. We pray that God may bless us throughout this fast and that the prayers, intercessions, and blessings of all the apostles be with us all. Amen.

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