I have to admit it: the Dormition Fast kind of snuck up on me this year.
And, honestly, I don’t feel ready. My pantry is a mess, I’m starting a new job on Monday, and we don’t even have a proper icon corner yet. But, maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe that misses the entire point.
We don’t fast out of our perfection, out of our readiness, out of our wholeness. Instead, we fast because we are broken and we need Christ.
So, this Dormition Fast I plan on focusing on Him and on His blessed Mother. I want to make morning prayers a priority, to eat simply, and to study the life of the Theotokos. I’d like to listen to the Paraklesis service, play with my kids, and go to bed early.
That is about all that I can handle this year.
If you are feeling this way, I encourage you to pick ONE thing to focus on during this Fast. Here are a few ideas:
-Commit to praying the Morning Prayers each day
-Commit to praying the Evening Prayers as a family each day
-Pray the Akathist to the Theotokos once
-Create a list of (no more than 10) people to pray for
-Pray for your children each day
-Pray for those suffering from the coronavirus and those leading the fight against it (doctors, medical workers, and scientists)
-Learn one of these short, beautiful prayers to the Theotokos and use it regularly in your prayer rule
-Visit your local farmer’s market and purchase some delicious vegetables or fruit to add to your fasting meals
-Try one new fasting meal
-Spend less money than you typically do on groceries. Give the difference to your church.
-Let your kids make one meal with you so that they can learn the traditions of the Church. Talk to them about why we fast and what the Dormition Fast is all about.
-Simplify everything and eat the same thing for breakfast or lunch everyday. Use the extra time you would have been preparing the meal to pray.
-Make a fasting meal and bring it to a new mom, an elderly member of your parish, or a shut-in.
-Write a handwritten thank you letter to your mother, grandmother, godmother, or other woman who has been a faithful example to you, like the Theotokos.
-Help your children make cards for people in a local nursing home.
-Purchase a gift card to a local restaurant that may be struggling during this time and give it to your priest.
-Let each of your kids have a certain amount of money to spend at the grocery store. Give all of the food to a local food bank.
-Mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn for them.
-Read one book of the New Testament (many of the epistles are only a few chapters long)
-Purchase and complete the Dormition Fast Study from Sylvia at Adventures of an Orthodox Mom
-Buy the children’s book The Story of Mary: The Mother of God and read it as a family.
-Read one spiritual book. I am going to be reading Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Bloom
-Attend at least one Paraklesis Service (if your church has them) if it is safe for you to do so.
-Listen to the Paraklesis Service sung by Eikona.
-Go to confession if it is possible.
Again, I absolutely do NOT recommend doing all of these things! Pray about it and choose one that fits with your schedule and needs during this season of life.
May God bless you during this Fast. Good strength to you all.