Only a handful of specialists now know about a liturgical rite called “the Furnace Act” practiced in Russia from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, and mentioned as early as the tenth century in Byzantium. It was a rite that was celebrated on the great feasts. With this rite also began the forefeast of the Nativity of Christ.
A few days before the great feast of the Nativity of Christ we talked with Archpriest Valerian Krechetov, a famous confessor and preacher, and rector of the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in the Akulovo village near Moscow. The subject of our talk was: How can we prepare ourselves to experience the great Christian feasts more attentively?
Why is fasting necessary? For several reasons. The most obvious (and I think the most understandable) reason consists in the fact that a person simply needs to have inner discipline. And in this sense, fasting is a disciplinary measure. We cannot simply live according to the principle of “I want”: I want this, I want that.