One of the practices at St. Simeon Skete is to observe the three day, Jonah Fast beginning at 12:01 AM EST on Monday, February 6th and lasting until after Vespers on Wednesday, February 8th.
The Jonah Fast, commemorates the three days that Prophet Jonah spent in the belly of the beast -the whale. It also commemorates the repentance of the people of Nineveh and is sometimes called the “Nineveh Fast”. It begins the Monday after Septuagesima - which is two weeks before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
While the normal service schedule will be adhered to at the St. Simeon Skete, the faithful will observe the fast by refraining from food (and drink if they wish) from midnight until Vespers (or sunset) during these three days. If, for health reasons you are unable to do without all food during the day, we encourage you to at least refrain from something i.e. meat, fish, and dairy products during the fasting period. At the skete, fasting is considered abstaining from an otherwise normal activity for the purpose of spiritual pursuit. Usually people abstain from food, but may also abstain from other activities - in example - refraining from the media i.e. news, etc.
This is a special fast at St. Simeon Skete because life at the skete embodies the experience of being in the belly of the beast where one must live in the “darkness” of faith. - where one seeks answers; but is turned back to live with the questions that make the answers possible; where every good answer simply makes the question vibrate all the more. Just as supply cannot be separated from its source; the answer cannot be separated from its question - nor the question from the answer.
Whether you participate in the fast or not, now is a good time to prepare yourself for the upcoming Lent. The days peel off quickly and without preparation your Lent can easily slip by with no gains within. A good choice of preparation is to read the Book of Jonah as a prelude of the forty days of Lent. It is a beautiful story of repentance and fasting.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
Jeremiah 36:9 In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the LORD was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah.
Daniel 9:3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Joel 1:14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.
Jonah 3:7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.