St Phillip’s Fast: Preparing for the Feast of the Nativity  
Part I of Becoming a Witness: Living the Church Year in the Domestic Church

Originally posted by Deborah Larmour, Family and Life Office Director at

Each year it seems preparations for Christmas begin earlier and earlier–even before all the Halloween candy is given out and consumed. For some this time of preparation is joyful, with the anticipation of the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth. For others preparing for Christmas mean lots of work, increased expenses and family encounters which are stressful and negative. Regardless of your personal experience or familial expectations, you can use this time as an opportunity for you and your family to draw close to Christ and enkindle a deeper awareness of the Christmas-Tree-2-150x150Incarnation and its importance in our lives. This can lead to deep inner and family peace as we focus, not upon ourselves but on God’s love for us and ways in which we can be come more loving.

“God is with us!”—proclaimed at Christmas—is central to the good news of our salvation.Our Byzantine Church takes the time (a full 6 Sunday’s of Preparation from November 15-December 25th) to allow us sufficient time to reflect and act upon our resolve to love more deeply, despite the “Christmas rush”. Join us for a journey to Bethlehem, this Christmas!

The following program can be modified depending on the time you have available and the ages of your children. Even a bit of extra prayer and reflection has the potential to be fruitful. If your children are very young you may want to use story book or children’s Bible versions of the scripture readings.  You can even use videos. If your children are older your reading or watching and discussions can be in more depth.  

Praying-Santa-2The secular media gets our kids focused on the commercial aspects of Christmas, earlier and earlier every year. The St Phillips fast, is a positive way to countdown the weeks leading up to the Feast of Christmas.  You may want to set some time on each week of the fast, depending on your family’s schedule, to reflect and pray and even to light a candle in your family’s icon corner.   In the Latin Church the tradition the advent wreath—with 4 candles– plays a major role in Advent celebration. You can do a modified version of that—just make sure that you have 6 candles for the 6 weeks of preparation. My family  lights candles whenever we have family prayer time. It is a  tradition that sets a great atmosphere of focus on God, especially when we gather around the icons in our family prayer corner. Happy St. Philip’s Fast!  (Click on the links below to open the guide for each week’s reflection)

Week 1 St. Philip’s Fast pdf

Week 2 Presentation of the Theotokos

Week 3 St. Andrew the First Called

Week 4 St Nicholas

Week 5 Ancestors of the Messiah

Week 6 Sunday of Holy Forefathers

(These materials we adapted from the Ukrainian Catholic Arch-Eparchy of Winnipeg, Youth and Young Adults website,, and are credited to St. Elias Parish, Brampton, Ont.)