The Holy Lent

The General Canons of Fasting

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Chirathilattu Biji Markose

Bar Ebroyo depends upon the decision of the Synod of Laodicea and from him oft quoted Patriarch Timotheos [1] and Patriarch John III of Antioch to describe the "dos and don'ts" in the The Holy Lent. The synod of Laodicea admonishes [2] that one should fast on the whole fasting time eating only the less nutritious (dry) food.

In the 40 days lent (The Holy Lent), it is not right to say the Holy Mass except on Sundays and Saturdays. It is not correct to conduct wedding feasts and birthday parties during the forty days lent. But the remembrance of the martyrs may be done.

Patriarch John [3] says that it is not allowed that the commemorations of the deceased or funeral repasts take place in the The Holy Lent except on Sundays or on Saturdays. In one of his directives, [4] Bar Ebroyo says that, not only meat, egg, milk and cheese, but fish and wine are also prohibited for the believers during the big lent. But Patriarch Timotheos [5] gives the exemption that if a woman delivers in the Passion Week; she is allowed to drink wine, if she wishes it. Likewise, Patriarch Cyriacus [6] exempts all the sick people, the people under constraint, the pregnant and nursing women and all under the age of twenty from fasts.

In the normal days of the The Holy Lent a Christian should not break the fast before the ninth hour. On Saturday and Sunday and in the other lent times it is ended at noon. [7]


[1] It is not yet clearly identified who this Patriarch Timotheos is, though Voebus identifies him as the Timotheos of Alexandria.

[2] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 53; Ethicon (ed. TEULE), pp. 95-96; Schulthess: Die Syrischen Kanones, p. 104

[3] Ethicon (ed. TEULE), p. 96; Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 55; VÖÖBUS: Synodicon II, pp. 12-14 and 37f.

[4] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 55.

[5] Ibid.,p. 53.

[6] Ibid.,p. 54; Ethicon (ed. TEULE), p. 96.

[7] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 52.

Source: Chirathilattu Biji Markose: "Prayers and Fasts according to Bar Ebroyo, A Study On the Prayers and Fasts of the Oriental Churches", Lit Publischers, Muenster, 2004

See Also:

Fasting Enlightens the Soul
Fasting helps to have serenity of the soul because the one, who hungers in his stomach, enlightens his intellect. Therefore, the hunger is a key, which opens the door of wisdom.

The Number and Days of Fasts
There are a number of fasts in the Syrian Orthodox Church and often many questions are asked from the part of the believers as to the dos and don'ts in the fasts, the beginning, duration, and ending of the fasts etc.

The Holy Lent in Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
During the period of the The Holy Lent and other periods of fasting throughout the year, an individual makes a special attempt or connection to reach our God, and evaluate his calling as a Christian, to listen to the voice of the Gospels and heed its commandments.