Fasting is abstinence from all kind of food for a limited time until the fast season is over. This can be performed by abstaining from tilulat and keeping ones body from food and dinking. Fasting is not absenting from tilulat but also from all things harmful to human beings; on the contrary it includes doing all vitreous deeds for others.
Fasting is common in any faith but its performing order is seen different. Israelites, for instance, eating tilulat at the night after fasting the whole day time. Others, the followers of Christianity, after fasting they simply eat and dink injera and water like E.O.T.C. but never eat tilulat until the fasting period is over.
By saying order of fasting we mean how fasting is performed and to know why do we observe it and to show its performance as per its order.
Regarding the purpose and significance of fasting, the late bishop of Shoa, His Grace Abuna Gorgorios, in his book entitled ‘History of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church under sub-title canon of feasts and fasting states as follows:
“Fasting means abstinence from all necessities of body and protecting the body what is desirable and earnest wish since fasting has everlasting relationship with religion. It is found where faith is there. Furthermore, in Old Testament fasting has highest place. While the prophets of Old Testament communicating with God, food and water were not enter in to their month (Ex 34:28). Wrath of God which is ordered (as a consequence)of sinning is being sensed while the people were asking and beseeching Him by Fasting (Joan 2 :7 -10). Fasting in the time of New Testament is also instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ as the beginning of His ministry (Matt. 4:2: Lk. 4:2). Not only this but Our Lord also taught that an evil spirit which is living together (with human being) will be defeated by fasting (Matt. 17: 21, Mk. 9: 29). Apostles who dedicated themselves to serve the church were delivering an order from Holy Spirit while they were fasting and praying (Acts 13: 2). Deacons and priests who served as evangelist were being appointed by fasting and praying (Acts 4: 23, 13:3). Cornelius saw and received what he never thought through fasting and prayer (Acts 10:30).As the allegorical meaning of fasting it is entreating the Creator and relying from the bondage of sin delicious food staffs used for enjoyment or alcoholic drinks which are opposite from spiritual power meat, milk and egg should be denied during fast time. Including food and other kind of pleasure a husband and a wife should not meet in bed and mat (1 Cor.7:5). Fasting was also preached in the teaching of the Apostles and church scholars as it is side “blessed and respected in the one who fasted to feed the needies”; the one who is fasting should give expense of his/her lunch or dinner for the helping organization of poors or for the needies around the church will make the fasting more valuable.”
We have understood that fasting is performed by sharing one’s own property to the poors in commemorating the historical facts; in order to be free from sin. Fasting is being performed not only oneself but also to others, not only for friends but also for the enemies as it is said “do fasting for your persecutors” (Didascalia 1:3). It is also deserved to commemorate fasting and pray for bed-ridden, captives and migrants. It is not enough to abstain from food during fasting season, but it is also written to fast from seeing evil by the eye and from speaking evil by the tongue as St. Yared said “Let the eye fast, let the tongue fast, let ear also fast from hearing evil by love” (Degua). Western and Eastern churches those which follow the culture and tradition of the apostolic church have Law and Order of fasting inherited from the Apostles. The Ethiopian (Orthodox Tewahedo) church as one among the first churches has this law and order of fasting. As per its law there are seven fasting periods; they are:
1. Lent (the Great fast)
2. the fast of the Apostles
3. the fast of the Assumption (of the Holy Virgin Mary)
4. the fast of Prophets (Advent)
5. the fast of Gehad (eve of Epiphany)
6. the fast of Nineveh
7. the fast of Redemption ( Wednesdays and Fridays)