Life as a Bipolar Byzantine Catholic

I am a Ruthenian Rite Byzantine Catholic. And I have also been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. That may not sound very profound but there are many people out their who view their mental illness as proof that God does not exist or that it is a “curse from Satan” or that their mental illness doesn’t exist and that it is something that gets in the way of their worship of God. Let me tell you. Mental illness is real, and if you have mental illness, you can live a fulfilling life within the Catholic Church.

My first indication that I might have a disorder was when I was 18 in my Freshman psychology class. The professor was going through slides on mental illnesses and when the bipolar slide came up, my friend whom I sat next to every class, looked at me and said “Dude, that’s you.” He wasn’t trying to be insulting or funny. He said it with a very concerned look. Now mind you, at the time (conversion to Eastern Catholic in later post) I was a Roman Catholic bent on going to the seminary, and I thought this would be the death of my chances. I refused to acknowledge it. However, even though I remained close to the sacraments and continued to push myself in my prayer life, my symptoms got worse until I forced myself to see a counselor. It was then that I received my formal diagnosis.

Bipolar is a mental illness that will never go away. It is with you for life, and you have to manage it. This mental disorder is indeed a cross. But I discovered Eastern Catholicism shortly before my mental breakdown, and throughout the following months, I became involved with Holy Synergy and started to learn more about our traditions as Eastern Catholics. We have many different prayers, and yet there are two distinct prayer styles. There is a calm, meditative prayer style known as Hesychasm. Hesycham literally means “stillness” and it calls us to calm our minds and bodies as we pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Have mercy on me a sinner.” It is known as the prayer of the heart, because it diverts our consciousness away from our minds and to our hearts, where it belongs. Our hearts are the ones that follow God. Our hearts know the truth. Our minds are the ones that rationalize why sins are okay.

But, the takeaway is that hesychasm calls us to interior stillness, and with a little practice, it can be achieved. We may not be experts on it like the monks, but we can certainly grow into it. The other prayer style is our active liturgy. We have the offices of the day (matins, vespers, etc.) as well as our divine liturgy. These prayers require a lot of focus and keeps our whole bodies active and engaged. Now the ideal state of prayer is to maintain that stillness that is achieved through Hesychasm while being active in the body, but again, that takes practice.

So how does this relate to bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania and periods of depression. Mania is when you feel like you can do anything and everything. Depression (as an energy state) makes you not even want to get out of bed. This is a very simplistic explanation and in reality depression will make you lie down in bed not wanting to do anything because “what is the point anyways, I just wanna die” and mania is like “I’m going to do all the prayers and fast perfectly the whole week and go to 7 liturgies a day and etc.”

These prayers can help us. Hesychasm is good for the manic episodes. Hesychasm forces us to be still, and even the most energetic person can sit down for 5 minutes, pray the chotki, and feel calmer. The active prayer is good for the depressed person because it gets us moving and praising God. And plus, there is no better antidepressant out there than the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is EVERY Catholic’s prize, devotion, and need. It is only through the Eucharist that any one of us can be saved. We receive the Eucharist for the remission of our sins, and for the healing of soul and body.

So yes, mental illness, and Byzantine Catholicism are very compatible. We all need healing from God. Why would bipolar disorder be any different.

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Apologetics 2:2 – Apostolic Succession

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Minor Mysteries (or sacramentals to Latin Catholics) are known to be outward signs of inward graces. Being that vestments express these graces in different degrees depending on the rank of the individual cleric, it’s quite evident why these Apostolic Crowns are worn by Popes, Patriarchs, & Bishops; in addition to also being decorated the way that they are – to show the importance of the role that Bishop has; that being the authority to guide the church and to teach the flock.

 

Catholic Teaching on Apostolic succession:

 

CCC 77: “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

 

Biblical proof for Apostolic Succession:

 

• 2 Timothy 2:2: “And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.”

 

• Acts 14:23: “They [the Apostles] appointed presbyters for them in each church.”

 

• Acts 1:16- 20: “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.  He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.'(Emphasis)

 

Acts 1:25-26 Concerning the replacement of Judas:

 

To take the place of this ministry and apostleship , from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

 

Paul is succeeded by Timothy, who will be succeeded by “faithful people”, who will be succeeded by “others as well’.

 

Titus 1:5: “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.”

Note: Titus is instructed to guide the flock, to teach, and to silence heresies from those outside of the true church that lack Apostolic Succession. (See Titus 1:10-11)

 

• Titus 1-10-11 “For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.”

 

Note: the silencing of heretics is what you find within the Catholic Church by the magisterium, that being the Apostolic Tradition to anathematize heresies and individual heretics that do not recant their heterodoxy.

 

•2 Peter 1:3-4 bares witness to the teaching that Jesus Christ has promised the apostles and their successors guidance to teach truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession:

 

Pope Clement I

“Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).

Hegesippus

“When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord” (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 [A.D. 180]).

Irenaeus

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

“[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way” (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

St. Jerome

“Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians” (Letters 14:8 [A.D. 396]).

A common question by non Catholics: “Who and how does one gain Apostolic Succession?”

Answer: Apostolic Succession is given to men alone. These are men that were given formation in the faith and have been ordained via the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Orders. These apply to deacons, priests, and Bishops.

In laymen terms, these are clerics that were ordained by a Bishop in whom passes on this Apostolic Succession through the laying on of hands (Ordination) . Ordination must come from Bishops in whom were ordained validly and can trace their succession back to the apostles. This can be found only in the Catholic Church – with the exception of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East.

CCC 1536 – Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

Biblical Support for Holy Orders:

•Acts 13:2-3 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.”

•Acts 14:23 – They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters (priests).

• 2 Tim 1:6,9 – For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. … He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Homosexual Relations: Is it true love?

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CCC 2204: “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.” (Eph: 5:21 – 6:4)

Marriage is to be between a man and a woman alone. This is to be a life long relationship dedicated to the bonding of both spouses with the aim of getting each other to Heaven, along with the children they produce with the duty of raising them in the Catholic Faith. In these times we live in, it’s not uncommon to hear that countries throughout the world have or are pushing forth laws to legalize homosexual “marriages.” What does the Church have to say in this regard, and what are the consequences?

 

The Church says the following:

 

Catechism 1603: “… God Himself is the author of marriage … Marriage is NOT a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences SHOULD NOT cause us to forget it’s common and PERMANENT characteristics.”

Since God is the author of marriage and Wills that marriage is to be between a man and a woman alone, and since Marriage is not a human institution in which can be changed simply because of the desires of the flesh amongst those that are against God’s Holy Divine Plan, the question remains; who are we, as mortals with limited knowledge, to question the All Immortal, Loving, & Knowing Divine God and His Plan?

 

– The Consequences –

 

While we will not address all of consequences of these relationships, such as the negative results in health because of the diseases spread by these relationships; we will address the spiritual since the spiritual consequences are the most important.

False Love: Just like all relationships outside of marriage in which revolve around the sins of the flesh; there is a lack of true love since the relationships are based upon using both persons as sexual objects for temporary pleasures. While one may argue that there can be “true love” within these relationships, the question remains: what kind of love revolves around risking the eternal soul of ones significant other – not to mention their own soul?

The purpose of marriage is to help both spouses get to heaven. Since the homosexual “marriage” is a sin against God’s plan, we have no choice but to conclude that it’s a relationship based upon nothing but the unfortunate loss of souls.

 

“And God Blessed them, and God said to them: ‘BE FRUITFUL and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” – (Genesis 1:28)

God makes it clear that a true fruitful relationship within the Holy Sacrament of Marriage is based upon the multiplying of children, for both Husband and Wife become one flesh. (Mark 10:8)

Since only a man and a female can reproduce, its quite evident that relations between individuals of the same sex cannot hold the claim of having a valid marriage, for this contradicts God’s plan all together and does not bare fruit as God commanded.

What does God say about those in whom do not bare good fruit? When Jesus cursed the fig tree for not baring forth any fruit, He made an analogy in which He compared this very parable to individual people in who do not bare any fruit. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.” (Matt 7:19)

Since damnation is the end result of these relationships, what must we do for those in whom are within these wicked relations? As Catholics, we must continuously pray for these poor people that they turn away from their spiritual plague of homosexual activity in addition to also remembering that we have our own weaknesses as humans with a fallen nature. May God grant them many graces to overcome their many sins, and may He grant us also many graces to overcome our own wickedness.

 

 

 

 

Persecution for the truth.

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Being True God and True Man, Christ had come into the world to save sinners. When He, being the Word of God & the Truth, made known the Gospel to those around Him; many rejected Him because they knew Him not. Because of the fact that men have put their pride above Truth, they persecuted Him in many forms.

 

When His Majesty, Our Lord Jesus Christ, made known to the Pharisees that He was God Almighty in John 8:58-59, we can see that He had stones thrown at Him. In Matthew 12:24, Christ was also accused of doing works of the devil because of His casting out of demons. Not only was our Lord persecuted in these very examples, but He also persecuted in such a fashion that He was spat upon, beaten, scourged, & forced to carry & endure the Holy Cross even to the point in where He was crucified upon it to the point of death.

 

With that in mind, let it not be forgotten that no servant is greater than his master. (John 15:20, Mt 10:24, Jn 13:16) Since we are members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5, 1 Cor 10:17) While all of us may not be persecuted in the exact same form, and while many of us may not be maryred (God Willing), we should not be surprised if we also come across being persecuted for the Truth; that being Jesus Christ & His Body, the Holy Catholic Church. As Matthew 10:28 says, let us not fear! : “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

In the Byzantine Rite during Paschal season, we Chant: “Christ is Risen from the dead trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life.” As they say, there is the light at the end of every tunnel and a rainbow at the end of every storm. So while we may suffer for the truth now, we shall rejoice since our reward will be great in Heaven. (Rev 2:10, Matt 16:24-25, Matt 5:10, Rev 6:9-11)

May God give us the hearts and courage of the martyrs!

BREAKING NEWS: The Orthodox Church of Puerto Rico enters into communion with the Catholic Church.

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“This news comes from Puerto Rico:
June 10, 2017 the Pan Orthodox of St. Spyridon in Trujillo Alto, PR community were received into the Catholic Church as a Greco Catholic Byzantine community under the “Omophorion” (jurisdiction) of the Latin Archbishop, Metropolitan Roberto González, O.F.M.

 
The welcome ceremony was presided over by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, father Alberto Figueroa Morales on behalf of the Archbishop. The priests and parishioners made the profession of faith and during the liturgy were commemorated the Supreme Pontiff, Francisco and metropolitan Robert.

 
This makes the community of San Espiridión the first Eastern Catholic in Puerto Rico community. Welcome to the priests and parishioners of San Espiridión to the Catholic Church. They will continue celebrating the Divine Liturgy and sacred mysteries according to the Byzantine tradition. The continuous liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, English and Spanish… following the liturgical calendar Julian (old calendar).

 
The community was under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul). Now it has been under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of San Juan of Puerto Rico. Probably then pass to belong to any of the Slavonic Byzantine Eastern Catholic churches, although they continue to remain under the local Latin metropolitan authority.

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View of the Temple of Saint Spyridon.

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The Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Fr. Alberto Figueroa Morales, to bless the new community greco Catholic in San Juan after having received the profession of faith of them.

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Peter DiLeo explains the Community agreement document
between the Archdiocese and the community of San Espiridión.The Archimandrite chaired the first Divine Liturgy as a Greek Catholic community.

The Church was built in the 1930s on the grounds of the old leper, in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. The brothers missionaries Orthodox St. Peter of Cetinje brought this mission to the islands of the Caribbean from the Archdiocese of Mexico of the Greek Orthodox Church in the diaspora and to evangelize new believers.”

Credits to:

http://saeculorumvalue.blogspot.com.ar/2017/06/monasterio-ortodoxo-entra-en-comunion.html?m=1

Apologetics 2.1: Addressing the Heresy of Sola Fide

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Since Protestants confidently proclaim that faith alone is the solution to being saved, the question remains; why does scripture oppose this heretical and unbiblical doctrine?

It’s quite evident within the scriptures that we are to do good works in response to having faith in Christ. This is called cooperating with God’s Grace. The scriptures state that we are to imitate Christ in all things (Eph 5:1-2) and that we are to keep His Commandments (Rev 22:14) in order to be saved. 1 Peter 2:12 says that we are to be an example to the gentiles by our good deeds in order that they may glorify the True God. Matthew 5:16 reaffirms this same request, since our good works “shine before men.”

This is why Matthew 16:27 makes it absolutely clear that we will be judged by all the good works we have done to glorify God, for it states: “For the Son of Man is to come with His Angels in the Glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.”

Bear in mind that later in Matthew 25:31-46; Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats in accordance to how they served God, the sheeps being the saved and the goats being the damned. The Protestant position of faith has no room within this scripture, for Jesus makes it clear that these good works, in absolute union with faith, are necessary for salvation as mentioned above.

Remember that even the Devils have faith in God, thus if we are to have faith alone and not do what God requests in this regards (Obeying the commandments, feeding the hungry etc.) we would only be cast away into Hell as “sinful and slothful servents.” (Matt 25:23-30) Did I forget to mention that the book of 2nd Corinthians 5:10 makes it absolutely clear that “all will be made manifest.. so that each one may receive what is due to him for the THINGS DONE while in the body, whether good or bad”?
Sounds like good works are necessary here for salvation. To reject this is to simply to be in self denial and pride. Had this not been true, the rich man would have not been damned. (Luke 16:22)

In conclusion, faith without works is dead. “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man say he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Luther would say yes… continuing… ) “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to him “Go in peace, be warned and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) Lets not forget James 2:26: “For as the Body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Fun fact: Martin Luther, the founder of the heresy of Protestantism, desired to remove the book of James from the Bible because of this very key doctrine in which he invented. It’s ironic considering that not only had he removed 7 books from the Old Testament, but also accused the Catholic Church for being unbiblical and twisting scripture in which he has edited in order for it to fit his doctrines.

Axios!

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Friends, we would like to announce the election of the Melkite Church’s new Patriarch: His Beatitude Joseph Absi of Damascus, Syria. May God Bless his mission on saving souls and guiding our holy Melkite Catholic Church. Axios!

This is the Day the LORD has Made

“In the beginning, God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Be light made. And light was made. And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness. And he called the light Day and the darkness Night; and there was evening and morning one day.”

Genesis 1:1-5 (Douay-Rheims Version)

Today is Sunday, and today is the first day of the week. This is the day when creation began. The first day of creation. Some may ask, “I thought God rested on the last day, and that is why we rest today!” The fact is that Saturday is the seventh day on which God rested, and it is still the Sabbath, technically. This is why no matter what week of the year it is, whether it be a fasting season or Pascha, every Saturday is a day where fasting is relaxed and when divine liturgy may be celebrated.  However, Sunday also has another name: the 8th day of creation. It is on this day that Christ rose from the dead. By rising, He created new life for us.

Over time, we transferred all of the Sabbath resting requirements to Sunday, thus making every Sunday a day of feasting and a day of rest. So Sunday occupies a weird position. It is both the 1st day and the 8th day. If you consider it, that is very appropriate.

The Sunday liturgy is the climax and finale of our week. All of our prayers, all of our work, and anything we do that is good is offered to God on Sunday. I always picture myself as taking all my cares, worries, and troubles and laying them before the altar when I attend Saturday Vespers (since liturgically, the Sunday actually begins sundown on Saturday and ends sundown on Sunday). Through the course of the day, I trust God to take whatever I offer and transform them to what is good.

That transformation is what begins my week. There is no better way to both end and start the week by receiving the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is that Holy Communion that transforms me into someone who can go out into the world for the next few days to spread the Gospel by the way I live my life and to help in the avoidance of sin. And when the week ends, Holy Communion refreshes me, fatigued from a week of life. “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matthew 11:28 DRV).

However, the mistake we can fall into is thinking of Sunday Liturgy solely in terms of receiving communion and what we get out of going. Yes, we receive grace (which, by the way, isn’t something that can be quantified – it is immaterial) by going, and yes, we are refreshed. We go to worship God and to rejoice in His Holy Resurrection. It is where heaven and earth meet and we worship Him in His Holy Place.

“Let us give thanks to the Lord”

“It is proper and just”

Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Ruthenian Translation)

It is proper and just to praise Him. This one part of the Liturgy fully depicts why we are there. To give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving. Eucharist. We give thanks to Him by commemorating His life, death, resurrection, ascension, the sitting at the right hand of the Father, and His Second Coming in Glory. While the Second Coming has yet to occur, we commemorate it since the Divine Liturgy transcends space and time.

Why is communion, then, a part of this thanksgiving? It doesn’t seem to make sense that we give thanks in order to receive more from God. The fact is, receiving the Holy Mysteries is an act of thanksgiving. We are showing our gratitude by fulfilling His Commandments: “Do this in memory (anamesis) of me.”

“For as often as we eat this Bread and drink this Chalice, we proclaim Your death O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection.”

Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

By receiving the Holy Mysteries, not only are we united to Christ, we offer Him the greatest thanksgiving and act of worship we can offer – we unite ourselves to His sacrifice, and we submit to His commands.

 

 

Fasting Rules or are they Guidelines?

Our Roman Catholic counterparts get their fasting regulations from the 1983 Code of Canon Law (regarding which days are fasting days and days of abstinence). The Code gives powers to the Episcopal Conferences in the regions to “more precisely determine” the rules of fasting in the area. Everything is regulated. And observance of these laws is mandated under pain of MORTAL SIN. If you break the law, you’ll find yourself in the confessional if you intend to make a Holy Communion.

Now, because of the Latin regulations, many people think that Eastern Catholics have the same sort of things going on. The fact of the matter is that we do not. The closest thing we have is the Eastern Code of Canon Law which says that our Church Sui Juris determines what the fasting disciplines will be. The thing is that our fasting guidelines aren’t something that we modify or make up as time goes on, but something that we’ve inherited from  the monastics. This is called the Typikon, and it contains every guideline for liturgy that one would need to know. But the think to keep in mind is that these are just that: guidelines. 

They aren’t the ideals, they aren’t the minimums, they are about where we should all aim to find ourselves. Every Byzantine Church, Sui Juris, bases its recommendations off of the Typikon. For instance, in the Ruthenian Catholic Church, there is no penalty of sin for breaking the fasting regulations outside of Lent. However, within Lent, if you break the fasting regulations, you are barred from receiving communion. (The law doesn’t state how long you are barred from the chalice). The Lenten fasting regulations are very simple: no meat or dairy on Clean Monday and Good Friday, no meat of Wednesdays and Fridays. However, we are strongly encouraged to abstain from meat and dairy from the start of Lent until we receive communion at Pascha.

If you look at the fasting regulations throughout the remainder of the year, as far as the Ruthenians go, when it comes to fasting seasons, nothing is imposed. Only for Lent is there extra dietary and penal restrictions enforced. So for the Apostles Fast, the only change you will note is that Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays are aliturgical – meaning that liturgy is not permitted to be celebrated on these days. The faithful are informed that we are in a fasting season, but we aren’t told what the fast entails. The reason being is that fasting is something voluntary that we should want to take on. And we should try to abide by the norms set forth in the Typikon.

Penance, or rather fasting discipline, varies from person to person. The point is not to become so rigid that the discipline overtakes the spirit. The point is to push ourselves to where it is uncomfortable but not unbearable. We are encouraged to seek the counsel of a spiritual father for a reason.