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The Non-canonical Fasting Rules of the Old Calendar and New Calendar Greeks

The Greek old calendar groups, especially the Matthewites, being separated from the grace of the Holy Spirit, have lost their ability to keep the true Faith even in the most rudimentary aspects of Church life. They have made up their own Pharisaic traditions of fasting, which puts them in violation of several canons. The practice of fasting with the Matthewites, and several other old calendar groups in Greece and elsewhere, as well as the new calendarists, according to first-hand experience, require a week of abstaining from meat, fish, dairy, and spousal relations prior to communing. This is the general rule, but, again, the rules are not the same everywhere; in some places they may only require three days abstention from fish, but a week for meat, dairy, and spousal relations.

These rules, however, apply only to laity. Their clergy do not follow any of these rules; they can have meat on Saturday night and serve the Liturgy in the morning with no restrictions. Moreover, many of their non-married clergy and monastics do not abstain from meat either. It is clear that the spirit of hypocrisy reigns in these groups.

Of course the new calendarists nowadays are usually not following any fasting rules whatsoever. They like to call themselves “canonical,” but they do not have any regard for the canons. In the popular Ecumenist Greek monasteries founded by Fr. Ephraim of Arizona, however, they follow their own strange rules for Communion. They only take Communion every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and every other Sunday. Why? Because they also believe, to their own condemnation, like the Matthewites, that eating cheese the day before Communion “defiles” one who wishes to partake. But why every other Sunday? In order to supposedly bypass the canon which forbids fasting every Saturday, they fast every other Saturday. But what exactly does the canon concerning this actually say?

Canon 66 of the Holy Apostles states, “If any clergyman be found fasting on Sunday, or on Saturday with the exception of one only, let him be deposed from office. If, however, he is a layman, let him he excommunicated.” It is clear that their thinking is absurd, since this canon forbids fasting on any Saturday except for one (Holy Saturday). So these men think that they are part of the “canonical” Church, but they break even some of the most straightforward canons. The Apostolic Constitutions likewise bear witness: “There is only one Sabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord’s burial, on which men ought to keep a fast” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Bk. 7).

We do not fast on Saturdays or Sundays, as well as on the other great feast days—meaning to keep a strict fast or to keep a fast until the 9th hour (3pm)—because on these days we are meant to rejoice. On Saturday we remember the seventh day of creation when God rested from all His works of creation, so we also rest from our labors of fasting throughout the week, and, in imitation of the Lord and His apostles who plucked ears of grain and ground them up with their hands and ate on a Saturday, we also eat and work with our hands as they did, abolishing the old, Jewish Sabbath. Every Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Resurrection, a smaller festival of the Holy Pascha, the eighth day of the new creation, and as our new Christian Sabbath, we rest from our labors on Sunday. Finally, Saint Ignatius, in his letter to the Philippians writes, “If anyone fasts on the Lord’s Day or on the Sabbath, except on the paschal Sabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ” (Ch. 13).

Of course, because all the new calendarists are heretics due to Ecumenism, they do not have real Holy Communion anyway. Their uncanonical traditions of men are simply the rotten fruit of a bad tree. Several other canons could be cited which they break through their fasting rules.

In the 9th Canon of the Holy Apostles, it is written, “All those faithful who enter and listen to the Scriptures, but do not stay for prayer and Holy Communion must be excommunicated, on the ground that they are causing the Church a breach of order.” Imagine, a Sunday at a monastery Liturgy where none of the monastics partake because they did not keep a strict fast on Saturday, a fast which is forbidden by the canon mentioned earlier. This happens every other week in the new calendar monasteries. There is no regard for the tradition of the Church, but only a new tradition of men started by those who were cut off from the unity of the Church.

Nowhere in the tradition of the Church is it taught that eating certain kinds of foods forbids one from communing the next day, given that the foods are not forbidden by the Church calendar. Canon 66 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council says: “The faithful are required to spend the time in a state of leisure without fail in the holy churches from the holy days of the resurrected Christ our God (Pascha) to New Sunday (Thomas Sunday) in psalms and hymns and in spiritual songs called odes, while taking cheer in Christ and celebrating, and paying close attention to the reading of the divine Scriptures, and delighting themselves to their heart’s content in the Holy Mysteries. For thus we shall be jointly resurrected and exalted with Christ. Therefore during the days in question let no horse races or other popular spectacle be held at all.” From this it is clear that all the faithful should partake of the Holy Mysteries, if possible, every day of Bright Week, which as we all know is a fast-free week. It is obvious that the Sixth Ecumenical Council never heard of these strange fasting requirements for the Eucharist.

This is just one more example of the outright errors in the schismatic and heretical churches who call themselves “Orthodox.”

To conclude, we will include this excerpt from an article written by Stavros Markou concerning the fasting rules of the Matthewite “Metropolitan” Kyrikos:

“They basically enforced a ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of fasting for all adult laymen prior to Communion, demanding seven days without meat, five days without dairy, or eggs either, but permitting oil, three days without oil, and the last day without any olives, sesame, halva, or anything that could be considered as containing oil....

“Kirykos wrote two letters to Fr. Pedro during Great Lent of this year (2010), requesting him to stop allowing laymen to receive Holy Communion on Sundays, claiming that Christians are only supposed to commune on Saturdays. He also said that Communion on Sundays is only to be allowed by ‘economia’ and, if that be the case, that the laymen are to fast from oil on Saturdays. But fasting from oil on Saturdays was actually condemned by the Holy Apostles in their canons, and by the Sixth Ecumenical Council in its 55th Canon. Also, believing that meat is ‘impure’ is condemned by the first canon of Ancyra....

“Met. Kirykos also states in his letters that fasting somehow makes people ‘worthy’ of Communion, as if the actions performed by man can make him ‘worthy.’ If they are ‘worthy’ then why would they even require Holy Communion, which is meant to be ‘for the remission of sins’? This theory of Met. Kirykos is nothing but an obscure offshoot of Pelagianism, for he makes the human effort the cause of ‘worthiness’ as opposed to the Mystery itself which is the source of God’s grace. In both letters, Met. Kirykos mentions nothing regarding the Mystery of Confession, as if this is somehow unimportant before Communion, while making his ‘one-size-fits-all’ fasting rule something of a dogma!

“Although it is true that this unorthodox rule has been kept in practice in many circles among the Matthewites, and even among the Florinites, this was due to the persistence of this practice ever since the 1700’s when it was introduced by the Jesuits and Jansenists who opened schools all over Greece. It may also have been introduced by the clergy who studied in the West. ‘Lay theologians’ Mr. Gkoutzidis and Mr. Kontogiannis ran their ‘clergy camps’ and taught each of the priests to apply this rule....

“Met. Kirykos and Mr. Gkoutzidis are the victims of their own brainwashing and refuse to allow anyone to explain to them the unorthodoxy of their views. Let it be known that outside of the fasting periods, Met. Kirykos eats cheese, eggs, yogurt, etc, as late as 11:30pm and sometimes midnight on a Saturday night, and receives Communion on Sunday morning thinking he is absolutely ‘worthy.’ Yet when it comes to laymen, no matter how pure they may be considered by their own spiritual father, Kirykos enforces the rule that such laymen must fast for seven days from meat, five days from dairy, three days from oil, and the last day without olives or sesame pulp, and that they can only commune on a Saturday and never on a Sunday! Meanwhile within Great Lent, Met. Kirykos was consuming oil almost every day,...and yet he was communing four times per week, including Sundays. Meanwhile, although laymen were fasting strictly from Monday to Friday, consuming only fresh fruit and vegetables and no oil or cooked foods, while eating oil only on Saturdays and Sundays as per the Orthodox instructions for fasting during Great Lent, Kirykos was forbidding them to commune on Sundays, but demanding them to commune only on Saturdays, considering the fact that they eat oil on Saturdays to make them ‘impure.’”

Orthodox Christians must follow the fasting rules that the holy fathers have laid down in ancient times at the ecumenical councils, rejecting the novel customs that have arisen in recent centuries and that contradict the holy canons and the spirit of the age-old practice of frequent Communion.

Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
Contact: Archbishop Gregory
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