Advent: the Nativity Fast

Dear brothers and sisters,

Sunday will be the last day before the Nativity Fast, and the last day on which we eat non-fasting food.

We should be ready for the Fast from the very beginning, and spend the next few days getting ready for the season of repentance and preparation for the great feast of the Lord’s Nativity.

We offer some advice published in the past by the Diocese of Mukachevo:

  1. Find time for attentive prayer: Make it a rule not to skip or shorten morning and evening prayers. Read a portion of the Gospel and Psalter every day, and most importantly, remember the presence of God as often as possible. 
  2. Prepare for Confession and Communion: Think about and assess your actions, looking for what has harmed your soul. Prepare to receive more often, with the blessing of your spiritual father. 
  3. Forgive your enemies: It is impossible to grow spiritually as long as there is a stone in the middle of our hearts. Even if you feel the other person is to blame, find an opportunity to speak with them and to forgive them, letting go of any and all anger. 
  4. Give up the internet for a few days: “Hanging out” online takes away time that could be devoted to our families. After just a few days of abstention from the internet, you will feel an unusual surge of strength and energy. Don’t believe it? Try it! 
  5. Finishing those things you’ve been working on for half a year already: Such things speak to your responsibility as a Christian. Many believers testify that once the Fast starts, everything goes like clockwork – prayer and fasting clear your mind and enhance your thinking. 
  6. Visit social institutions, such as an old folks’ home, children’s homes, or hospitals: You can bring people in hard situations a gift, especially the warmth of your heart and good conversation. 
  7. Feed the homeless:Don’t be afraid. Separate out a portion of your groceries as food for the poor – there are plenty of them in churches and throughout cities as a whole. Do it with an awareness of what need the destitute are in. 
  8. Take stock of your clothing and shoes. Give to someone else that which you don’t wear.
  9. Do good deeds in secret:December is a time when everyone is talking about charity and mercy, although in modern times it is often bound up with publicity. Remember that our benefit for such deeds, when done in secret, comes from God Himself. 
  10. Let go of everything that bothers and worries you:Get rid of all excesses during the Fast, including the thoughts and feelings that oppress you. Do not dwell on the negative. 
  11. Prepare foods for the feast of the Nativity beforehand, so you can attend the Vigil and Liturgy in peace: The Divine services are the main preparation for the birth of the God-Man. Prepare food ahead of time so you don’t deprive yourself of the spiritual atmosphere which will allow you to truly experience Christmas. 
  12. Give thanks to God: Thank God from a sincere heart for another year that has passed, and for His unconditional love that permeates every second of our lives. 

Be prepared, be ready, and may God give you good strength in the spiritual arena of the Holy Season!

In Christ – Fr Mark

The Coming Weekend

The coming weekend will again see confessions heard in Deacon Mark’s office on Saturday, and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, which is the first day of the Nativity Fast, the feast of Saints Guriy, Samon and Aviv – the preservers of the Christian family – and the feast of the great monastic father, St. Paisiy (Velichkovsky) of Moldavia and Mt. Athos.
As always, I ask those wishing to confess on Saturday and Sunday to email me at as soon as possible.
The variable parts of Sunday’s Liturgy may be found at ‘Orthodox Austin’ –
If bringing food for the bring-and-share lunch after the Liturgy, please remember that the food must be Lenten – meat, egg and dairy free, though fish will be permitted.
I am delighted to announce that through the generosity of Father Dean, of St Mary Butetown, we will be able to use the small parish-hall attached to the church for our Friday Advent Reflection, with the first gathering on 3 December at 19:00. We will be reflecting upon the presence of the Saviour in the Old Testament and the ‘Christophanies’ that lead the way to His Incarnation.
As we are only permitted twenty attendees, due to the size of the room, we ask that you let us know if you wish to attend.
May God bless you all!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark