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The Apostles’ Fast and Feast

“We commemorate each of the saints with hymns and appropriate songs of praise, how much more should we celebrate the memory of Peter and Paul, the supreme Leaders of the pre-eminent company of the Apostles?”

– St. Gregory Palamas

Monday after All Saint’s Day (which is the Sunday after Pentecost) until the eve of the Feast of
Ss Peter and Paul

Accounts from Holy Scripture

The Acts of the Apostles

“And Jesus said to them, “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.

– Matthew 9:15

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.'”

– Mark 2:19-20

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.'”

– Luke 5:34-35

According to History and Tradition

In The Fast and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul published by
Bishop Thomas Joseph and Peter Schweitzer, the history and significance of this fast and feast is explained to us as follows:

“The oldest testimony regarding the Apostles’ Fast is given to us by St. Athanasiusthe Great (+373)… The spiritual benefit derived from the Apostles’ Fast is great. Saint Leo the Great (+461) noted that, ‘After the extended feast of Pentecost, the fast is particularly needed in order to cleanse our mind by ascetic labors, and to make us worthy of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.’ Saint Leo also reminds us, ‘In the Apostolic canons inspired by God Himself, the Church fathers have, at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, established first and foremost that all virtuous labors begin with fasting.’

Periods of fasting such as the one upon which we are about to embark are not, as some in the West would have us believe, exercises in mortification or penance but the divinely inspired method to gain mastery over the self and conquer the passions of the flesh. It is to liberate oneself from dependence on the things of this world in order to concentrate on the things of the Kingdom of God. It is to give power to the soul so that it would not yield to temptation and sin. According to St. Seraphim of Sarov (+1833), fasting is an “indispensable means” of gaining the fruit of the Holy Spirit in one’s life… and Jesus Himself taught that some forms of evil cannot be conquered without it. (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29)

Neglecting the fast is not the only pitfall to be avoided however. Those who fast may be tempted to judge those who do not fast, thus losing the efficacy of their labors. We should not concern ourselves with what others are doing but concentrate on our own spiritual life.

Fasting periods, particularly the Apostles’ Fast, assist us in avoiding the spiritual pitfalls to which we are so accustomed after the ascetical struggle of Great Lent and the joyous celebration of Pascha.

In turning our attention to the feast of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the connection between the feast of Pentecost, the Apostles’ Fast, and the actual feast of the two preeminent apostles becomes clearer. As I noted earlier, this fast was originally connected to the feast of Pentecost and we understand this connection by examining the feast itself…As the foremost of the holy apostles, it is fitting that after the feast of Pentecost, wherein the apostles received the revelation of truth in its fullness, we commemorate Saints Peter and Paul jointly. As Saint Gregory Palamas writes in his sermon on the occasion of the saints’ feast…’we commemorate each of the saints with hymns and appropriate songs of praise, how much more should we celebrate the memory of Peter and Paul, the supreme Leaders of the pre-eminent company of the Apostles? They are the fathers and guides of all Christians: Apostles, martyrs, holy ascetics, priests, hierarchs, pastors and teachers.'”

(read full article )

Troparion (Tone 4)

First-enthroned of the apostles, / teachers of the universe: / Entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world, / and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion (Tone 2)

O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest / and to the enjoyment of Your blessings / the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles, / for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, / for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion (Tone 2)

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor / The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, / Together with Paul and the company of the twelve, / Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, / Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

References / More information

featured image source for this post: https://www.goarch.org/-/feast-of-the-holy-glorious-and-all-praiseworthy-chiefs-of-the-apostles-peter-and-paul

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