DORMITION FAST and Paraklesis
Today we begin the period of preparation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. These two weeks from August 1-14 are called the Fast of the Mother of God.
The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts celebrated on August 15/August 28. For this feast we prepare by fasting beginning August 1/14 to August 14/27.
General guidelines for fasting:
WEEKDAYS are Strict Fast Days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, fowl, wine, and oil.
SATURDAYS and SUNDAYS are Wine and Oil Days. On these days the fast is relaxed to permit wine and oil, but we still abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, and fowl.
The one exception to these general rules is that the Great Feast of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ (August 6/19), which always falls during the Dormition Fast, is celebrated as a Fish, Wine, and Oil Day. On this great feastday, the fast is relaxed to permit fish with backbones, in addition to wine and oil, but we still abstain from meat, dairy, and fowl.
Meals for the fast should follow the dietary restrictions and be cooked simply. Portions should be smaller than usual.
If you have a medical condition that requires you to relax the fasting guidelines, then do so.
Generally speaking, children and elderly people are allowed to relax the fast under the guidance of their spiritual father.
During the Dormition fast, it is custom in the Greek Church to chant the (Paraklesis*) Small and Great Supplicatory Canon of the Theotokos on alternating evenings. This service is very rare in the Russian Church, however, in the diaspora, St. John Maximovich used to serve the Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God during the Dormition Fast.
- Paraklesis: The Paraklesis is a service of supplication for the welfare of the living. It is addressed to the Most Holy Theotokos or a Saint whose intercessions are sought through the chanting of a supplicatory canon and other hymns.