Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I have a serious illness that causes me to be tired. I am also taking strong medication which makes me even more tired. I am scared of becoming Orthodox and fasting because I have tried fasting in the past and often felt extremely weak, although I can cope with a vegetarian fast before Christmas and Easter. Is it possible for me to practice a less strict form of fasting than normal because of my health?

The fathers consider fasting to be a spiritual form of discipling the body. However, when one is ill, the fathers consider the illness to be already discipling the body, and thus, do not require more fasting than the body can bear. Fasting is a very important component of one's spiritual life, but it is notthe goal in itself. It is a means for stronger spirituality and earthly detachment.It is important todiscussyour abilities regarding any issues relating to fasting or any spiritual activity directly with your confession father. I am sure he will adjust your guidelines (canons) according to your health requirements. Have no fear of becoming Orthodox due to these concerns. It is thetrue faith and the holy sacraments that youneed in order toacquire salvation for your soul and rituals alone will not do that. Rituals will follow and mayrequire adjustments from time to time. Fastingshould also be accompanied by prayer and almsgiving (acts of mercy). Like a physician, your spiritual father will prescribe the appropriate quantities for you so that you may grow healthy and strong, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.I wish you good health and a blessed spiritual journey with the Lord.

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