Fasting, together with prayer and giving alms, completes the possessive virtues. Through prayer we communicate with God; through giving alms we communicate with our own kind, and through fasting we care for ourselves, our body and soul, regulating them internally and externally.
Fasting is first of all related to nourishment, but it is not limited to the diet. While fasting, man should restrict himself to only those expressions and communications associated with the spiritual sphere.
Fasts in Armenian Church are more restrictive compared to other Apostolic Churches. No animal products (with the exception of honey) are consumed, including dairy, eggs and meat. Notable exceptions are days preceding five major feasts, when dairy and fish products are permitted following Holy Mass.
According to the calendar of the Church, all Wednesdays and Fridays are fasting days, with the exception of the period of Eastertide.
In addition to these days, there are fasting cycles, such as Lent which spans fifty consecutive days before Easter, and the ten-week-long fasting period that precedes other major feasts.
The first week-long fast of the year commences three weeks after Lent and is named Foregoing fast. Apart from canonical fasts, pious Christians often fast individually, especially in preparation for Holy Communion. The most restrictive or Absolute Fasts are defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a period, usually a day or three days. This type of fast is usually elected during strict penance or opulent grace. On days of Holy Mass, fasting from morning until administration of Holy Communion is prescribed by canon law.
Fasting is of great significance in piousness. From the beginning it was given to man as a commandment when man was restricted from tasting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
By violating the fasting ordained by God, man was expelled from Paradise and distanced from God. Therefore, the return of man to God, and his entry into the visible Paradise - the Church - are both associated with fasting.
In the early centuries of Christianity, fasting preceded baptism as a precondition.
The fasting periods before the feasts were considered to be a special opportunity for those who sought baptism to repent and to make their bodies fully obedient to their souls in order to receive the heavenly grace without internal barriers.
Man returns to Paradise through baptism, but each sin puts him under the threat of expulsion from Paradise; that is, deprivation from God’s grace, because by committing sin a Christian causes grievance to the Holy Spirit by which he was baptized.
Therefore, the periods of fasting established by a wise tradition became not only preparatory phases for baptism, but also periods of regaining the fullness of the grace attained through repentance and baptism.
By keeping the fasting traditions, the faithful protect themselves against sin and enable themselves to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and enjoy proximity to God.
A true Christian exercises his obligation of obedience and progresses in spiritual life by fasting.