PETRIWKA – THE FAST OF PETER

Monday after All Saints' Sunday to June 28

 

 

     Prayer and fasting was a very important part of the lives of the Apostles.  They prepared themselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit with prayer and fasting. They prayed and fasted much before they went put to preach the Gospel and only after prayer and fasting did they ordain new presbyters for apostolic work.  The Church has always encouraged the faithful to prepare for major feast with prayer and fasting.  We observe four major fasts in the Ukrainian Catholic Church:  Pylypiwka (preparation for the Nativity), The Great Fast (preparation for the Resurrection), Petriwka (preparation for the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul), and Spasiwka (preparation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God).

     Petriwka, also known as the Fast of the holy Apostles, the Apostolic Fast, the Fast of Peter (Peter’s Fast), or the Summer Fast is a very ancient fast, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity.  Simeon of Thessalonica († 1429) explains the purpose of this fast in this manner: “The Fast of the Apostles is justly established in their honour, for through them we have received numerous benefits and for us they are exemplars and teachers of the fast … we fast in honour of the Apostles.”

     The Fast of Peter came into practice in the Church through custom rather than law.  This fast lasts from the Monday after All Saints' Sunday (June 20, 2011) to the Feast of the Apostles Ss. Peter and Paul on June 29th.  Depending on the date of Easter, the fast can be as long as 6 weeks, or as short as 1 week and 1 day.  Petriwka is not as intense as the Great Fast.  The “official prescriptions” for Petriwka per the Synod of Lviv (1891) are: no meat on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; it imposes upon the laity the obligation of praying five “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Marys” before and after the noon day meal and supper.  As with any fast, it is not about following the law, but the spirit of preparation and sacrifice that accompany whatever actions one takes to observe the fast.  However we choose to observe Petriwka, the purpose should be to bring us into a deeper relationship with God and to prepare us to fully celebrate the Feast day of our patrons, Ss. Peter and Paul.  This period of fast is not one that is an obligation, but of personal choice