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The Spirituality of Fasting, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
10- Fasting precedes the Church sacraments
* A person is required to fast to receive the sacrament of baptism. Their godfather and the priest also fast to greet this new spiritual birth.
* Fasting proceeds the sacrament of Chrism, the acceptance of the Holy Spirit.
* Congregations also fast to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist or Communion.
* The sacrament of the Unction of the sick (the prayer on the oil) is performed by a fasting priest. Those anointed with the oil of this sacrament also have to be fasting. Patients however, who are unable to fast and those absolved from fasting for the sacrament of communion, are exempt.
* The sacrament of priesthood, is practiced while fasting as mentioned earlier.
* What remain are the sacrament of confession and the sacrament of marriage.
How marvellous it would be for those who came to confess their sins while fasting and repentant, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. However, since the Church seeks the sinners regardless of their state, it has not set fasting as a condition for this sacrament.
As for the sacrament of marriage, Jesus Christ exempted it, saying: “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?” (Mark 2:19). However, the early ascetic church practiced the sacrament of marriage after the raising of the morning incense at which time the bride and groom fasted to receive the Holy Communion, and went on fasting for the remainder of the day. Nowadays, this practice is uncommon.
The faithful, who fast, gain the blessings of the Holy Spirit during the Church sacraments.
In the same way, the Church recognised the importance of fasting in the life of worship and service. It has also known it in times of hardship and has come up with a spiritual rule which is:
Through fasting, God intervenes:
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