5 Fantastic Orthodox Books About Fasting

Books for Orthodox inquirers

The Orthodox Church fasts between 180-200 days out of the year – that’s quite a bit of fasting! Given its pervasiveness in the life of an Orthodox Christian, it behooves each of us to learn as much as we can about the practice of fasting. Aside from actually diving in headfirst and experiencing the fasts ourselves, a great way to learn about fasting is by reading about it. In this post, we share some of our favorite books about fasting in the Orthodox Tradition.

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1. Food, Faith, and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health

Written by nutritionist Rita Madden, MPH, RDN, this fabulous book explores the way we can reclaim the original purpose of eating: to commune with God. Far too many of us simply just eat to fuel the machine, sometimes eating out of boredom or to cope with stress. Our society has completely warped the way we interact with food.

Throughout the book, Rita includes helpful training tools, interactive to-do’s for the reader that make the process interactive and reflective. She also includes some helpful, healthy recipes (both fasting and non) and some helpful tips to get you through the longer fasting periods.

This book is a pleasant, easy read that pairs excellently with Rita’s podcast on Ancient Faith Radio by the same name.

2. On Fasting and Feasts

Part of the Popular Patristic Series, On Fasting and Feasts is a collection of sermons from Saint Basil the Great of Caesarea (c. 329-378/9 CE). Saint Basil was a monk, bishop, preacher, theologian, and social activist who had very down-to-earth views about eating, drinking, fasting, and feasts in honor of local martyrs. In this volume, he addresses things like drunkenness, hesitations over baptism, community benefits of fasting, how to be thankful when facing loss and disaster, and the mystery of the incarnation.

Also included are three sermons on local martyrs Julitta, Mamas, and Barlaam. This small volume of elegant translations is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in religion and the body, early Christian spiritual disciplines, and their application to the Church today.

3. When You Fast: The Why and How of Christian Self-Discipline

This next recommendation has a companion book titled When You Pray (which we also recommend). In this excellent “how-to” guide, author L. Joseph Letendre explores the underpinnings of the Church’s practice of fasting and of ascetic discipline in general. Rather than being preoccupied with the details of food regulations, he helps the reader understand the purpose of fasting and how to enter into it more willingly and fully.

4. Fasting as a Family: Planning and Preparing Delicious Lenten Meals

Written by food blogger and mother of eleven, Melissa Naasko, this fantastic book walks you through the process of stocking your pantry during fasts. She also provides meal planning tips and explores the challenges we face with tight budgets and dietary restrictions. The book includes several easy, delicious fast-appropriate recipes for families that you can try during the next big fast!

5. Toolkit for Spiritual Growth: A Practical Guide to Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

This little book provides a great overview on the basics of Orthodox spirituality. Father Evan Armatas dives into the three key practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving at the perfect depth for new Orthodox Christians, as well as for those who may need a bit of a refresher course as they renew their Faith.

Other great books on fasting?

Are there other helpful books on fasting in the Orthodox Tradition that we haven’t listed here? Share your recommendations in the comments!

Read More: Suggested Books for Orthodox Inquirers and Catechumens

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