ST. PHILIP’S FAST FOR FAMILIES ~ Activites for the whole family for the weeks of the St Philip’s Fast from November 15 to December 24

Download the PDF: ST. PHILIP’S FAST FOR FAMILIES ~ St. Philip’s Plan – Saint Elias Church

St. Philip’s Fast – The Nativity Fast

Pilipivka workbook ~ a 20 page activity book for the weeks of the St Philip’s Fast from November 15 to December 24

Download the PDF: Pilipivka workbook

Why Do We Keep Phillip’s Fast? , by Steve Puluka

Unlike the Great Fast before the Feast of the Resurrection (Pascha), the Phillipian fast is seldom known or practiced in the Byzantine Church. Often it is confused with the Roman Catholic practice of Advent.

Since the Nativity / Theophany events hold less importance than Pascha – the Feast of Feasts – (the Resurrection), a detailed structure never evolved for the Phillipian Fast. Yet the Phillipian Fast is an ancient practice in preparation for the Incarnation and Theophany of the Lord Jesus Christ. This 40 day fast is important and should be preserved and practiced. The Phillipian Fast can help us to better understand and appreciate all of God’s saving plan.

Without the structure and public events to guide us, the practice of the Phillipian Fast has gradually fallen off. Theologically, the birth and the public ministry of Christ are inextricable linked. The Phillipian Fast was created to prepare us to receive Christ into the world and begin His public ministry. They are two sides of a single coin. The Phillipian fast prepares us to receive the public ministry of Christ announced at Theophany.

On arriving at Bethlehem and the Nativity on December 25th, we begin to prepare for the Theophany. We do not stop at the Nativity. In our joy at God’s arrival, we press forward and see the Theophany. With Theophany we experience the beginning of Christ’s revelation to us of the mysteries of God. Most important of all, this event points out the Mystery of the Trinity, a mystery long hinted in the Old Testament.

Coming to Terms

Advent – The term used by the Roman Church to describe the preparation period for Christ’s Birth. It means “Coming”.

Phillip – Apostle, born in Bethsaida on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, the place of origin of Andrew and Peter. He was called in Galilee after Jesus had been baptized by the Forerunner John. (Cf. Matt 10:3, John 1:43-48, John 6:5-7, John 14:8-12) The Nativity / Theophany Fast begins at sundown at the conclusion of the day on which we celebrate his memory.

Phillip’s Fast, Nativity Fast, Byzantine Advent – terms designating the 40 day preparation period before the Christmas / Theophany season. It begins at sundown on November 14th (when the Church begins a new day) and concludes at Christmas.

What is Phillip’s Fast?

For Catholics of the Roman Rite, Advent, the period of preparation for Christmas, begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. But for Eastern Rite Catholics, the preparation for Christmas begins a little bit earlier, on November 15 each year. Advent is called a “little Lent,” because, like Lent, it is a time of repentance. While fasting during Advent used to be universal, most Western Christians today treat Advent as an early part of the Christmas season. Eastern Rite Catholics (and the Eastern Orthodox), however, continue to celebrate Advent with the Philip’s Fast, named after the Apostle Philip. The fast doesn’t really have anything to do with the Apostle Philip, other than the fact that it starts on November 15, the day after his feast in the Eastern calendar. It runs through Christmas Eve, December 24.

Like most fasts in the Eastern Church, Philip’s Fast is fairly strict and includes abstinence from meat, eggs, and dairy products on all weekdays, and fish, oil, and wine on most days. (Different Eastern Churches observe the fast more or less strictly; because extreme fasting can affect your health, you should never increase the strictness of a fast beyond what the Church prescribes without consulting with your priest.) While Roman Rite Catholics are no longer bound to fast during Advent, reviving the tradition of repentance during Advent can help us better appreciate our Christmas celebration. Pope John Paul II called on Western Catholics to learn more about the traditions of our Eastern Rite brethren; joining them, even if for only one day a week, in celebrating Philip’s Fast is a very good way to do so.