"Following the Holy Fathers" ... It was usual in the Ancient Church to introduce doctrinal statements by phrases like this.
The Decree of Chalcedon opens precisely with these very words. The Seventh Ecumenical Council introduces its decision concerning the Holy Icons in a more elaborate way: "Following the Divinely inspired teaching of the Holy Fathers and the Tradition of the Catholic Church." The didaskalia of the Fathers is the formal and normative term of reference.
Take possession of your stomach, before it takes possession of you. —St. John Climacus
How early should children begin fasting? According to the teaching of the ancient fathers, a healthy child begins to fast once it no longer takes its mother’s milk, that is, at around age three. (In ancient times, Jewish women breastfed their infants until they reached three years of age). Along with the need to observe whatever degree of fasting, parents must also take care to prevent their children from forming a habit of overeating, or eating too often, outside of the times established for taking food—eating between meals. St. Theophan the Recluse gives parents advice in this regard: “A child should eat in such a way that while developing and fortifying the body and giving it health, he does not foment flesh-pleasing in the soul. Regardless of how young your child is, he must begin from the earliest years to stabilize the flesh, which leans toward coarse matter, and accustom it to self control, so that in both the childhood and teenage years and beyond, he can easily and freely control this need.”
The holy, great, and Ecumenical Council, which, by the grace of God and the will of the pious and Christ-loving Emperors, Constantine and Irene, his mother, was gathered together for the second time at Nice, the illustrious metropolis of Bithynia, in the holy church of God which is named Sophia, having followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, hath defined as follows: Christ our Lord, who hath bestowed upon us the light of the knowledge of himself, and hath redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous madness, having espoused to himself the Holy Catholic Church without spot or defect, promised that he would so preserve her: and gave his word to this effect to his holy disciples when he said Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world which promise he made, not only to them, but to us also who should believe in his name through their word.
I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.
Within this developed pattern of Great Lent, what precisely do the rules of fasting demand? Neither in ancient nor in modern times has there ever been exact uniformity, but most Orthodox authorities agree on the following rules:
(1) During the week between the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and that of the Prodigal Son, there is general dispensation from all fasting. Meat and animal products may be eaten even on Wednesday and Friday.
By Father Seraphim (Rose) of Platina
In answer to numerous requests from readers, the rule of fasting is given for each day of the year. Where no indication of fast is given, and during "fast-free weeks," all foods may be eaten (except during Cheese-fare Week, when meat alone is forbidden every day). Where "fast day" is indicated alone, the fast is a strict one, with no meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, wine or oil to be eaten. Where, underneath "fast day," is indicated "wine and oil allowed," the fast is relaxed for the sake of a feast day or vigil, to allow eating of these foods. Where "fish, wine and oil allowed" is indicated, then all three of these foods may be eaten.