In the course of a year, the Byzantine Catholic Church observes four main periods of fasting, including, the Philip's Fast, the Great Fast, the Peter and Paul Fast, and the Dormition Fast. During these times, our focus should not be on the foods or things that we can't enjoy, but rather on the Lord and His power, mercy, and love for us. It is through fasting that we can separate ourselves from things of this world so as to focus on those of the next.
The Philip's Fast:
This fast is done in preparation of of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, or Christmas. This time period calls us to contemplate the great mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, when the second person of the Holy Trinity took on flesh and became man. The fast begins on November 15, the feastday of St. Philip, and continues to Christmas Eve, when traditionally a strict fast is kept until after the Divine Liturgy celebrating the Nativity. This is a voluntary fast, but all are highly encouraged, in coopeartion with their spiritual father (director or pastor,) to make an effort and participate according to their own ability.
The Great Fast
The Great Fast, known in the western Christian traditions as Lent, is the most stringent fast that the Byzantine Catholic Church keeps during the year. This period begins on Pure Monday, (two days before Lent begins in the west on Ash Wednesday.) and directly follows two consecutive Sundays that prepare us to enter into this fast. These two Sundays are called the Sunday of the Last Judgement/Meat-fare, and Forgiveness Sunday/Cheese-fare. It is tradition to consume all of the meat products remaining in your home on meat-fare, and all dairy products on cheese-fare, not consuming these items again until Pascha (Easter.) While this is our tradition, it is not possible for all of the faithful to adhere to such a strict and monastic fast, therefore, the Byzantine Catholic Church requires only that no meat be eaten (Simple Fast) on the Wednesdays and Fridays between Pure Monday and Pascha, as well as observing the Strict Fast (no meat or dairy products) on Pure Monday and Great and Holy Friday. This rule should be seen as the minimum, and as with other fasting periods, discussion with your spiritual father or director should be sought for more personal recommendations.
The Peter and Paul Fast
This period of fasting begins on the 8th day following Pentecost Sunday, and assists us in preparing for the great Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the prime apostles to our Lord. This is a voluntary fast.
The Dormition Fast
From August 1-14, Byzantine Catholics observer the Dormition Fast, a short period of time where we prepare for the great mystery of the falling asleep in the Lord of the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary which is celebrated on August 15. This is a voluntary fast.
The law of abstinence (simple fast) forbids the use of meat or meat products, permitting the use of eggs and dairy products. Abstinence is to be observed on all Wednesdays and Fridays during the Great Fast and on Holy Saturday. It is also to be observed on every Friday of the year, except on indicated days.
The law of strict abstinence (strict or black fast) forbids the use of meat, eggs, and dairy products or any of their by-products. All of the adult faithful of the Eparchy who receive Holy Communion are obligated to observe strict abstinence. Those with valid medical reasons; pregnant or nursing mothers are not bound to fast. Strict fast and abstinence is to be observed on the First Day of the Great Fast, Pure Monday, and on Great and Holy Friday.
Pastors and administrators may, for a just cause, grant to the individual faithful and to individual families, dispensations or commutations of Abstinence and Strict Abstinence into other pious practices.