In our Coptic Orthodox Church, we observe fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar. There are eight fasts in the Coptic Orthodox Church:
1. The Fast of the Advent
2. The Fast of Ninevah
3. The Fast of Great Lent
4. The Fast of Holy Week
5. The Fast of the Apostles
6. The Fast of St. Mary
7. Wednesday and Friday Fasts
8. The Paramon Fasts
Let us discuss the Fast of the Advent since that is the one we are currently fasting.The Fast of the Advent lasts 43 days, beginning November 25 and ending January 7. The 40 days correspond to the 40 days that Moses the Prophet fasted before he received the 10 Commandments from God. So we fast 40 days before we receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Incarnation.
The three days added at the beginning of the 40 days is to remember the blessing of fasting as it happened when the Church fasted three days and God moved the Mokattem Mountain.
St. John Chrysostom said about fasting:
"Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast.
Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see an enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by."
By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.