Jonah/Nineveh Fast is Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, February 22-24. This fast holds two purposes:
1. Preparation for the Great Fast (Lent) which always starts two weeks after.
2. That it sets the spirit of the Great Fast… repentance, pleading in prayer, strictness, and self-discipline.
This fast follows the same practices of the Great Fast – No fish and longer abstaining hours (by the guidance of a spiritual adviser).
Below is the Schedule for the week of Jonah’s Fast:
Church Fathers on Jonah
Long-suffering therefore was God, when man became a defaulter, as foreseeing that victory which should be granted to him through the Word. For, when strength was made perfect in weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9 it showed the kindness and transcendent power of God. For as He patiently suffered Jonah to be swallowed by the whale, not that he should be swallowed up and perish altogether, but that, having been cast out again, he might be the more subject to God, and might glorify Him the more who had conferred upon him such an unhoped-for deliverance, and might bring the Ninevites to a lasting repentance, so that they should be converted to the Lord, who would deliver them from death, having been struck with awe by that portent which had been wrought in Jonah’scase, as the Scripture says of them, And they returned each from his evil way, and the unrighteousness which was in their hands, saying, Who knows if God willrepent, and turn away His anger from us, and we shall not perish? Jonah 3:8-9 — so also, from the beginning, did God permit man to be swallowed up by the great whale, who was the author of transgression, not that he should perish altogether when so engulphed; but, arranging and preparing the plan of salvation, which was accomplished by the Word, through the sign of Jonah, for those who held the same opinion as Jonah regarding the Lord, and who confessed, and said, I am a servant of the Lord, and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land. Jonah 1:9 [This was done] that man, receiving an unhoped-for salvation from God, might rise from the dead, and glorify God, and repeat that word which was uttered in prophecy by Jonah: I cried by reason of my affliction to the Lord my God, and He heard me out of the belly of hell; Jonah 2:2 and that he might always continue glorifying God, and giving thanks without ceasing, for that salvation which he has derived from Him, that no flesh should glory in the Lord’s presence; 1 Corinthians 1:29 and that man should never adopt an opposite opinion with regard to God, supposing that the incorruptibility which belongs to him is his own naturally, and by thus not holding the truth, should boast with empty superciliousness, as if he were naturally like to God. For he (Satan) thus rendered him (man) more ungrateful towards his Creator, obscured the love which God had towards man, and blinded his mind not to perceive what is worthy of God, comparing himself with, and judging himself equal to, God.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem:
And when we examine the story of Jonah, great is the force of the resemblance. Jesus was sent to preach repentance; Jonah also was sent: but whereas the one fled, not knowing what should come to pass; the other came willingly, to give repentance unto salvation. Jonah was asleep in the ship, and snoring amidst the stormy sea; while Jesus also slept, the sea, according to God’s providence, began to rise, to show in the sequel the might of Him who slept. To the one they said, “Why are you sleeping? Arise, call your God, that God may save us;” but in the other case they say unto the Master, “Lord, save us.” Then they said, “Call upon thy God”; here they say, “save Thou”. But the one says, “Take me, and cast me into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you”; the other, Himself rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. The one was cast into a whale’s belly: but the other of His own accord went down, where the invisible whale of death is. And He went down of His own accord, that death might cast up those whom he had devoured, according to that which is written, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; and from the hand of death I will redeem them”.
St. Gregory the Theologian:
Jonah was fleeing from the face of God, or rather, thought that he was fleeing: but he was overtaken by the sea, and the storm, and the lot, and the whale’s belly, and the three days’ entombment, the type of a greater mystery. He fled from having to announce the dread and awful message to the Ninevites, and from being subsequently, if the city was saved by repentance, convicted of falsehood: not that he was displeased at the salvation of the wicked, but he was ashamed of being made an instrument of falsehood, and exceedingly zealous for the credit of prophecy, which was in danger of being destroyed in his person, since most men are unable to penetrate the depth of the Divine dispensation in such cases.
But, as I have learned from a man skilled in these subjects, and able to grasp the depth of the prophet, by means of a reasonable explanation of what seems unreasonable in the history, it was not this which caused Jonah to flee, and carried him to Joppa and again from Joppa to Tarshish, when he entrusted his stolen self to the sea: for it was not likely that such a prophet should be ignorant of the design of God, viz., to bring about, by means of the threat, the escape of the Ninevites from the threatened doom, according to His great wisdom, and unsearchable judgments, and according to His ways which are beyond our tracing and finding out; nor that, if he knew this he would refuse to cooperate with God in the use of the means which He designed for their salvation. Besides, to imagine that Jonah hoped to hide himself at sea, and escape by his flight the great eye of God, is surely utterly absurd and stupid, and unworthy of credit, not only in the case of a prophet, but even in the case of any sensible man, who has only a slight perception of God, Whose power is overall.
On the contrary, as my instructor said, and as I am myself convinced, Jonah knew better than anyone the purpose of his message to the Ninevites, and that, in planning his flight, although he changed his place, he did not escape from God. Nor is this possible for anyone else, either by concealing himself in the bosom of the earth, or in the depths of the sea, or by soaring on wings, if there be any means of doing so, and rising into the air, or by abiding in the lowest depths of hell, or by enveloping himself in a thick cloud, or by any other of the many devices for ensuring escape. For God alone of all things cannot be escaped from or contended with; if He wills to seize and bring them under His hand, He outstrips the swift, He outwits the wise, He overthrows the strong, He abases the lofty, He subdues rashness, He represses power.
Jonah then was not ignorant of the mighty hand of God, with which he threatened other men, nor did he imagine that he could utterly escape the Divine power; this we are not to believe: but when he saw the falling away of Israel, and perceived the passing over of the grace of prophecy to the Gentiles — this was the cause of his retirement from preaching and of his delay in fulfilling the command; accordingly he left the watchtower of joy, for this is the meaning of Joppa in Hebrew, I mean his former dignity and reputation, and flung himself into the deep of sorrow: and hence he is tempest-tossed, and falls asleep, and is wrecked, and aroused from sleep, and taken by lot, and confesses his flight, and is cast into sea, and swallowed, but not destroyed, by the whale; but there he calls upon God, and, marvelous as it is, on the third day he, like Christ, is delivered: but my treatment of this topic must stand over, and shall shortly, if God permit, be more deliberately worked out….
St. John Chrysostom:
For Jonah was a servant, but I am the Master; and he came forth from the great fish, but I rose from death. He proclaimed destruction, but I am come preaching the good tidings of the kingdom. The Ninevites indeed believed without a sign, but I have exhibited many signs. They heard nothing more than those words, but I have made it impossible to deny the truth. The Ninevites came to be ministered to, but I, the very Master and Lord of all, have come not threatening, not demanding an account, but bringing pardon. They were barbarians, but these – the faithful – have conversed with unnumbered prophets. And of Jonah nothing had been prophesied in advance, but of me everything was foretold, and all the facts have agreed with their words. And Jonah indeed, when he was to go forth, instead ran away that he might not be ridiculed. But I, knowing that I am both to be crucified and mocked, have come nonetheless. While Jonah did not endure so much as to be reproached for those who were saved, I underwent even death, and that the most shameful death, and after this I sent others again. And Jonah was a strange sort of person and an alien to the Ninevites, and unknown; but I a kinsman after the flesh and of the same forefathers.