Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Holy Season of Lent -- Fast and Abstinence
EWTN.com ^ | 02-18-02 | Colin B. Donovan, STL

Posted on 02/19/2004 9:49:26 PM PST by Salvation

The Holy Season of Lent
Fast and Abstinence.

It is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance, without which the Christian is unlikely to remain on the narrow path and be saved (Jer. 18:11, 25:5; Ez.  18:30, 33:11-15; Joel 2:12; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 4:17; Acts 2:38). Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). The general law of penance, therefore, is part of the law of God for man.

The Church for her part has specified certain forms of penance, both to ensure that the Catholic will do something, as required by divine law, while making it easy for Catholics to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics [Eastern Rite Catholics have their own penitential practices as specified by the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches].

Canon 1250  All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251  Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Canon 1252  All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Can. 1253  It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

The Church, therefore, has two forms of official penitential practices - three if the Eucharistic fast of one hour before Communion is included.

Abstinence  The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. They must do some penitential/charitable practice on these Fridays. For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere.

Fasting The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance.

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment,  manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.


Aside from these minimum penitential requirements Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. A person could, for example, multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives). Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat. Similarly, one could multiply the number of days that one fasted. The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church's law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys - candy, soft drinks, smoking, that cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the individual.

One final consideration. Before all else we are obliged to perform the duties of our state in life. Any deprivation that would seriously hinder us in carrying out our work, as students, employees or parents would be contrary to the will of God.

----   Colin B. Donovan, STL



TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Humor; Islam; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Other non-Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: abstinence; ashwednesday; catholiclist; fast; goodfriday; holysaturday; holythursday; lent; triduum
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-76 next last
The Holy Season of Lent is fast approaching. Ash Wednesday is next Wednesday, February 25th.

Prepare for the season of Lent by talking over these thoughts and ideas about Fast and Abstinence with your family.

Then make a family decision about what you will do in accordance with the Rules for Fast and Abstinence in your family.

1 posted on 02/19/2004 9:49:27 PM PST by Salvation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
Lenten Journey Ping!

Please notify me via Freepmail if you would like to be added to or removed from the Lenten Journey Ping list.

2 posted on 02/19/2004 9:51:01 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All
The three practices of Lent:

Praying

Fasting

Almsgiving

3 posted on 02/19/2004 9:52:52 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: All
[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let you left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 NAB)
4 posted on 02/19/2004 9:54:17 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: All
** For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year.**

The U. S. Bishops are finally telling us we can abstain from meat on all Fridays!

5 posted on 02/19/2004 9:56:11 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
The Meaning of Lent

The rich, liturgical color of royal purple cloaks the season of Lent in its penitential vesture. Simplicity and austerity quietly whisper images of the barren desert. Flowers are absent, music is sparse and the church quietly, but firmly, heralds its reflective “time out.” Things have noticeably changed. As people and as church, we enter the time of serious penitential and baptismal reflection. We take stock and assess our growth in the Christian life. We ask ourselves, “Where is there need for healing and reconciliation in our lives?”

The Church teaches that “Lent is a preparation for the celebration of Easter. For the Lenten liturgy disposes both catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery: catechumens, through several stages of Christian initiation; the faithful, through reminders of their own baptism and through penitential practices” (GNLY #27).

Lent is a time of conversion, of metanoia, a complete turning away from sin into the living arms of our loving God. The Lenten season challenges us to…

* to hear and follow God’s call
* to take time to pray and seek God’s guidance in our lives.
* to turning more fully to God which includes turning in love toward our neighbors through acts of justice, compassion and service
* take time to consider our choices and to look at our relationships for ways to be more loving, more fair, more forgiving and more compassionate.
* take time to share God’s love through acts of service and justice.
* renew our belief in the Easter promise that we share in Jesus’ resurrection
* prepare for renewing our baptismal promises during the Easter liturgies
6 posted on 02/19/2004 9:59:51 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: All
Praying

All of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. As disciples, we seek to follow St. Paul’s call to “pray always.” Lent is a time when we concentrate our prayer on the double meaning of the season: conversion from our sinful ways and renewal of our baptismal promises.

Participating in the Eucharist and praying over the Scripture readings, on a weekly or even daily basis, are helpful ways of prayerfully entering into the season. Private prayer, family prayer and communal prayer all work together to deepen our prayer life, not only during this season, but also all year long

7 posted on 02/19/2004 10:01:11 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: All
Fasting

Fasting is an integral part of Lent. Traditionally it has included reducing the amount of food we eat and abstaining from meat.

But why do we fast? Not because our bodies and appetites are something evil that need to be punished, but to allow our physical hunger to remind us of our spiritual hunger, our need for God. Our Lenten fasting is modeled on Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert, Just as he fasted in preparation for his baptism in the Jordan and his public ministry, we fast to remind ourselves of our baptismal commitment and need for renewal.

Fasting can take many forms. While we usually fast by eating less, we can also fast from other things, whether they be enjoyable activities or bad habits.

The purpose of fasting is to turn our attention to both God and others. Fasting reminds us not only of our dependence on God, but also of the needs of the hungry and poor. By fasting, we place ourselves in solidarity with suffering people everywhere.

8 posted on 02/19/2004 10:02:15 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: All
While we usually fast by eating less, fasting can take many forms. Fasting can be holding back from unnecessary buying, accumulating, and wasting, from excessive TV viewing, etc. It can be an ecological fasting that fosters respect for natural resources and for all of creation. Any form of fasting can be a breaking from destructive patterns of life, freeing us to grow healthier in our thoughts and actions as Catholics.
9 posted on 02/19/2004 10:03:21 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: All
Almsgiving/Serving

The prophet Isaiah tells us that God wants a fast which involves “releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NAB). Almsgiving or service is an essential Lenten practice.

The Catholic Bishops of the United States emphasize that “our faith calls us to work for justice; to serve those in need; to pursue peace; and to defend the life, dignity, and rights of all our sisters and brothers. This is the call of Jesus, the challenge of the prophets, and the living tradition of our Church.” (A Century of Social Teaching. A Pastoral Message of Catholic Bishops of the United States. November 1990)

Lent is a time for repentance and action. We are called to service those in need and use our wealth, gifts, time, and talents to create a world that mirrors the vision that Jesus proclaimed.

10 posted on 02/19/2004 10:06:09 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Some ideas for Praying, Fasting, Almsgiving:

--> fast from watching television one night each week so that you can spend time on a Lenten practice, such as praying, reading the Bible, serving others

--> fast from one movie during Lent and give the money… and the time in service to others

--> fast from using foul language and put-downs and start affirming the good in other people

--> fast from buying new things like clothes, music, magazines, or jewelry and make a donation…

--> fast from spending money on entertainment and make a donation of time or money that serves others

--> fast from holding resentments and start practicing forgiveness

--> from gossiping or being dishonest and start the practice of always being truthful and honest

--> fast from a favorite snack food or drink and set aside the money you would have spent to donate to a special charity

--> fast from being angry or upset with people who have hurt or offended you, and pray for the courage to forgive them

--> fast from feeling guilty and angry at yourself for things you have done wrong, instead remember God’s great love for you.

--> participate in Ash Wednesday services
--> participate in the Stations of the Cross during Lent
--> participate in the Lenten Sunday liturgies
--> participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent

--> read the Lenten Scripture readings through Lent; here’s a list for each week of Lent: (C)
(1) Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 (Ash Wednesday)
(2) Luke 4:1-13 (1st Sunday)
(3) Luke 9:28b-36 (2nd Sunday)
(4) Luke 13:1-9 (3rd Sunday)
(5) Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 (4th Sunday)
(6) John 8:1-11 (5th Sunday)
(7) Luke 22:14:23-71, 23:1-56 (Passion Sunday)
(8) John 13:1-15 (Holy Thursday)
(9) John 18:1—19:42 (Good Friday)
(10) John 20:1-9 (Easter)

--> spend fifteen minutes a day praying during Lent: give thanks to God for all your blessings, prayer for a specific personal need prompted by the day's experience, and prayer for those who are in need or suffering in your community and the world

--> donate personal possessions, such as clothes, books, shoes, to people in need

--> dedicate time for service during Lent, e.g., working at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, helping people in your neighborhood such as the elderly.

--> donate food or money saved by fasting to the parish or community food pantry, food bank, or homeless shelter

--> cook a meal for the soup kitchen or homeless shelter, gather some friends to help

--> volunteer at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter or nursing home several hours per week during Lent

--> learn more about feeding the hungry by contacting Bread for the World, 1100 Wayne Ave., Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301-608-2400)

--> learn more about addressing human rights violations around the world by contacting Amnesty International, 322 8th Ave., New York, NY 10001; 212-807-8400 (amnesty.org)

--> learn more about the ways you can help others around the world by contacting netaid.org.

--> volunteer to read books and magazines to the elderly who are no longer able to read

--> help others learn to how to read by becoming a literacy trainer or volunteer to tutor children

--> work to change the structures of injustice by joining the work of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby at 801 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20003-2167 (networklobby.org)

--> work to overcome child sweatshops by supporting the work of Free the Children, which builds rehabilitation and educational centers for children freed from sweatshop labor, (FTP, 603 N. Oak St., Falls Church, VA 22046, 703-534-7045)

--> support the work of the hospice movement to provide compassionate low-cost, in-patient and at-home care for the terminally ill, contact the National Hospice Movement at 1-800-658-8898

--> give the gift of sight by donating old eyeglasses or unused frames to the local Lion’s Club who recycles them to the poor

--> support the national work of Covenant House as they house and care for homeless youth (P.O. Box 731, Times Square Station, NY, NY 10108-0731)

--> support the work of Project Clean Your Desk, which delivers pencils, paper and other supplies to resource-starved rural schools were children drop out because their families cannot afford these provisions. Organizing packets are available from Project Clean Your Desk, Quixote Center, Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782 (301-699-0042)

Additional Lenten Ideas-->-->-->
-->

-->

-->

-->

List your own ideas with your family.
11 posted on 02/19/2004 10:12:57 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: All
Please feel free to add additional information and ideas about the three practice of Lent --
Praying
Fasting
Almsgiving

12 posted on 02/19/2004 10:15:30 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

 

 

 

What is "Lent," and how to find grace though it? From the

 pages of Our Sunday Visitor's 2004 Catholic Almanac, we learn:

"The penitential season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which occurs between Feb. 4 and Mar. 11, depending on the date of Easter, and lasts until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday). It has six Sundays. The sixth Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and is known as Passion (formerly called Palm) Sunday.

"The origin of Lenten observances dates back to the fourth century or earlier."

In addition, the Almanac explains the Easter season:

"The Easter Triduum begins with evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.

"… The Easter season, whose theme is resurrection from sin to the life of grace, lasts for 50 days, from Easter to Pentecost. Easter, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, occurs between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25. The terminal phase of the Easter season, between the solemnities of the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost, stresses anticipation of the coming and action of the Holy Spirit."

As Catholics honor the crucified and risen Savior through liturgy and worship, our prayer is that, through the penitential time of Lent, we can find the grace we need to cast off sin, and rejoice in the light of Easter.

On this Lenten site, Our Sunday Visitor has gathered ideas, information, and resources to help make Lent more reverent, more meaningful, and more prayerful.

On this web site, you can:

Stations of the Cross

Learn about the Stations

Stations of the Cross from the USCCB

Liturgical Calendar

Make a Good Confession

Read Scripture (The Resurrection)

My Daily Visitor meditations

Prayers

Pope John Paul II's
Lenten Messages

This Week of Salvation by James Monti

Lenten recipes

Lenten Family Activities

Download children's activities (PDF)

Try This! from Grace In Action

Contact us

Order from www.osvbooks.com

 

 

 

 

14 posted on 02/19/2004 10:30:40 PM PST by Coleus (Help Tyler Schicke http://tylerfund.org/ Burkitt's leukemia)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: wiclif
LOL! And the flip side is.............................?
15 posted on 02/19/2004 10:37:13 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Coleus
Thanks, Coleus, I like all the references there, too. I will post some more tomorrow. (Trying to get the first four Stations of the Cross tonight.)
16 posted on 02/19/2004 10:38:38 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
I have been dooing this all my life I have never changed..
17 posted on 02/20/2004 1:08:09 AM PST by .45MAN
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
BUMP
18 posted on 02/20/2004 1:20:45 AM PST by nickcarraway (www.terrisfight.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
I have a questions:

Is it true that you're not supposed to fast or abstain on Sundays? I always have done so during Lent, but I've heard that Sundays are exempt.
19 posted on 02/20/2004 2:25:33 AM PST by BlessedBeGod
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Could you help me get some information about Ash Wednesday?

I am a Protestant, but I spent much of my growth as a Christian in a church which observed Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. However, now I am currently in a Protastant church which doesn't celebrate hardly any of the traditional Christian calendar, and I would like to be able to give them some resourses on the history and importance of Ash Wednesday, Lent, and other traditional Christian observances that seem to be totally missing from this church.

many thanks in advance for your help

pony

20 posted on 02/20/2004 2:59:10 AM PST by ponyespresso (simul justus et peccator)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ponyespresso

Home | Join | Adoremus Bulletin | Archive | Index | Church Documents | Architecture | Posture | Music | Translation | What's NEW? | FAQ | Search Site


Online Edition - Vol. VI, No. 10 - February 2001

 

Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Fast


"The main current of Lent must flow through the interior man, through hearts and consciences. The essential effort of repentance consists in this. In this effort the human determination to be converted to God is invested with the predisposing grace of conversion and, at the same time, of forgiveness and of spiritual liberation".

This reflection by Pope John Paul II in Lent of 1979, recorded in a collection of his meditations, The Light of Christ, indicates the attitude with which we should approach our observance of this penitential season -- a season which begins with a sign of repentance so ancient as to be almost lost in antiquity, and continues with penitential action equally ageless.


Ashes

Putting ashes on our heads as a form of penitence is a practice inherited from Jewish tradition. In Old Testament times, fast days expressed sorrow for sins and the desire to make atonement to the Father. Ashes, for Jews and Christians alike, are a sign of repentance, sorrow, and mourning. The King of Nineveh believed the prophecy of Jonah and fasted forty days wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes to save the city, and ordered the people to do so, too [Jonah 3:4-10]. Jeremiah calls Israel to "wallow in ashes" of repentance [Jeremiah 6:26]. Abraham speaks of being unworthy to speak with God because he is "but dust and ashes" [Gen 2:7] - being man, he is created from dust. Jesus also refers to this symbol in Matthew 11:21, "Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes".

The ashes imposed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday are a reminder of our unworthiness and sinfulness -- sinfulness that corrupts and stains us and leads to death (we return to the dust from whence we came). Ashes remind us of our original sin and our need of redemption -- of our need to be cleansed of sin and made worthy of Salvation. This is why the priest says, as he imposes ashes on our foreheads, "Remember, O Man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return". [Genesis 3:19].

We cannot appreciate God's infinite mercy if we do not realize we need mercy. We cannot understand salvation apart from our recognition of our need to be saved, rescued, from something namely our sin, which otherwise separates us forever from God. Ashes remind us of this need. When we wear the ashes on our heads, we also acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ, who forever substituted His own death for the "burnt offerings" made by Old Testament priests to atone for the sins of the people.


Fasting
On Jewish fast days, or days of atonement, the penitent customarily wore sackcloth (burlap), placed ashes on his head, and went barefoot. These traditions associated with penance continued to be observed by the early Christians, although Jesus warned against ostentatious public displays of penance [see Matthew 6:16-18].

In the New Testament, fasting had similar significance, but fast times were also a time of intensified prayer and willingness to abide by the will of Christ and the Father who sent Him.

We also fast because of our sorrow at the loss of the Lord: "The days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away, and then shall they fast" [Luke 5:33-35]; also because of our intention of giving our Christian life more depth and more seriousness of purpose. Pope Leo the Great says in his forty-second sermon: "While men are distracted by the many cares of life, their religious hearts are necessarily defiled by the dust of the world". We also fast because of the need to prepare ourselves spiritually for the celebration of Easter: for the renewal of our baptismal vows, and for Easter Communion

According the Didache, a second-century record of early Christian beliefs and practices, Christians were to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year. Emphasis on seasonal fasting became more pronounced in the second and third centuries when a more strict fast was observed from Good Friday until Easter. Eventually this shorter fast developed into the forty-day fast.

In 1099, Pope Urban II called the first day of Lent Feria quarta cinerum or Ash Wednesday. During the early centuries of the Church, only persons who had committed grave sins received ashes and were asked to do public penance, which usually lasted until Holy Thursday when they were reconciled to the Church through confession and the reception of Holy Communion. The custom, as early as the fourth century, was to "quarantine" (from the word for "forty") or separate the penitents from the rest of the community during the forty days of Lent. Ashes were a sign of this separation. The penitential quarantine applied to poor and rich alike.


Fasting and Penance Today
In the same Lenten message quoted above, Pope John Paul II said,

"Penance is not just an effort, a weight, but it is also a joy. Sometimes it is a great joy of the human spirit, a delight that other sources cannot bring forth. Contemporary man seems to have lost, to some extent, the flavor of this joy. He has also lost the deep sense of that spiritual effort which makes it possible to find oneself again in the whole truth of one's interior being. Civilization -- especially in the West -- closely connected as it is with the development of science and technology, catches a glimpse of the need for intellectual and physical effort. But he has lost the sense of the effort of the spirit, the fruit of which is man seen in his inner self. The whole period of Lent -- since it is a preparation for Easter -- is a systematic call to this joy that comes from the effort of patiently finding oneself again. Let no one be afraid to undertake this effort".

The Code of Canon Law states that Fridays throughout the year and in the time of Lent are penitential days for the entire Church. Although fasting usually refers to any practice of restricting food, there is a distinction, in the Church, between a fast (limiting food to one full meal and two small meals a day) and abstinence (abstaining from eating meat). Abstinence from meat on Fridays as the universal form of penance on all Fridays is no longer mandatory. We may choose another way of observing the Church's requirement for acts of penance on Fridays.

Some people have become confused about the requirement to observe penitential days. As a result, the discipline of fasting (or abstaining from meat) or any form of regular penance has all but disappeared.

Both fast and abstinence are required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The rules of the Church in the United States in effect since 1966 state:

"Catholics in the United States are obliged to abstain from the eating of meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during the season of Lent. They are also obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. Self-imposed observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended. Abstinence from flesh meat on all Fridays of the year [excluding solemnities like Christmas which may fall on Friday] is especially recommended to individuals and to the Catholic community as a whole" (ref. Canons 1249-1253, Code of Canon Law).

The purpose of fasting is to foster pure, holy, and spiritual activity. It is an act of solidarity that joins us to Christ an act of self-donation in imitation of His total self-sacrifice. Fasting can heighten our understanding of Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, and of our total dependence on His love and mercy.

from Family Sourcebook for Lent and Easter, Women for Faith & Family

 


Copyright © 2001 Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Home | Join | Adoremus Bulletin | Archive | Index | Church Documents | Architecture | Posture | Music | Translation | What's NEW? | FAQ | Search Site

21 posted on 02/20/2004 4:33:42 AM PST by RockDoc
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Thanks especially for this and the post on the Stations.

Been searching for meditations and found some that viewed fasting and abstinence not as a means to Jesus, but as solidarity with the rest of the third-world and a means to protect the earth.

Very discouraging to have Gaia interjected.
22 posted on 02/20/2004 5:11:09 AM PST by OpusatFR (Kerrycrats are the Know-Nothings of the 21st Century)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

mark and Bump!
23 posted on 02/20/2004 5:38:51 AM PST by MudPuppy (Young Marines - "Strengthening the Lives of America's Youth")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
They are traditionally associated with Lent, but they should be performed year-round.
24 posted on 02/20/2004 6:32:50 AM PST by Pyro7480 ("We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid" - Benjamin Franklin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: BlessedBeGod
Is it true that you're not supposed to fast or abstain on Sundays? I always have done so during Lent, but I've heard that Sundays are exempt.

Every Sunday is a feast day, a celebration of the Resurrection, a mini-Easter. As such, a penitential mind-set is discouraged.

That doesn't mean you must engage in something you are otherwise abstaining from, nor that you should make it an occasion of gluttony. But, in general, Sundays are not days for fasting and the like.

SD

25 posted on 02/20/2004 6:45:23 AM PST by SoothingDave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: .45MAN
Congratulations!

I have to say that after Vatican II I got lazy and only did the fast and abstinence during Lent.

Although I could skip it now due to my age, I am more ardent about following it than ever before in my life.
26 posted on 02/20/2004 7:09:42 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: BlessedBeGod
Sundays are not a part of Lent -- therefore no fast or abstinence is required.

Count the days -- 40.

Sundays are not counted.

(PS. I had to count them too!)
27 posted on 02/20/2004 7:11:10 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: RockDoc
Thanks, RockDoc! Couldn't have said it better myself. I think we have an Ash Wednesday post out there lurking somewhere. I will try to find it.
28 posted on 02/20/2004 7:12:27 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: OpusatFR
Thanks for your kind words. I hope you found this a little more traditional even though it has some justice actions in it.
29 posted on 02/20/2004 7:14:26 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: MudPuppy
Glad to help!

Isn't it amazing that the U. S. Bishops are now saying that we can abstain from meat year around?

30 posted on 02/20/2004 7:15:27 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave
Very good answer. Thanks SD!
31 posted on 02/20/2004 7:16:12 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: All
Sunday Soundbite
by Father Greg Friedman, O.F.M.

What is Lent?
Return to Lent: Call to Conversion
 
 

These days, a Catholic may be able to tell your age by the way you explain Lent. Hello, I'm Father Greg Friedman. American Catholic.org presents this series of "Sunday Soundbites" for the season of Lent.

Older Catholics, who remember Lent in the 1930s, 40s or 50s—or perhaps even earlier—may first think of this season as a time of penance. Lent was when you gave up something—like food or going to the movies— in order to do penance for sin.

Since the Church has restored the rite of initiating adults into the Christian faith, Lent has taken on a different meaning—one that goes back to the fourth and fifth centuries. At that time, the 40 days before Easter were the final stage of preparation for those about to be baptized. The rest of the Church prayed and fasted in solidarity with them.

Today, with the presence in most Catholic parishes of a group of adults visibly making ready to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil, Lent has regained that "baptismal" emphasis. We still can decide on a Lenten observance—fasting, prayer, almsgiving—but we do it with the purpose of recalling our Baptism, of deepening our commitment to Christ. And we do it in solidarity with those preparing to be baptized or received into the Church.

The readings for each Sunday in Lent have been chosen by the Church to relate to the journey of faith each of us undertakes, to our basic baptismal call to be part of Christ. Some of the selections, from the Gospel of John, for example, have been used for centuries to recall the meaning of Baptism. For people about to be baptized, these Scripture passages take on a powerful meaning indeed. The meditations you will find here on our Web site will call attention to the various "baptismal connections" for each Sunday.

Those who are already baptized, are still on a journey. Our faith must be renewed, our baptismal promises affirmed, each time we gather with the Church for the Eucharist, where we hear God's Word and come to the table to be transformed into the Body of Christ. We bring to that experience our questions, our sinfulness, our hunger and thirst, our need to grow, our longing for God.

As you reflect with me through these "Sunday Soundbites," let's pray for each other as we make our Lenten journey of faith. I'm Father Greg Friedman for AmericanCatholic.org.


Franciscan Father Greg Friedman, O.F.M., is executive producer of educational religious videos for St.Anthony Messenger Press. He also helps develop Web-based projects for the Press, including OnceCatholic.org and FranciscanRadio.org. He assists each weekend at a parish that ministers to college students and serves as a member of the leadership team of the Cincinnati-based Franciscan Friars.


32 posted on 02/20/2004 7:42:46 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: ponyespresso
Here are some other links about Lent:

The Holy Season of Lent -- Fast and Abstinence

The Holy Season of Lent -- The Stations of the Cross

Lent and Fasting

Ash Wednesday

All About Lent

Kids and Holiness: Making Lent Meaningful to Children

33 posted on 02/20/2004 7:48:42 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: RockDoc; ambrose; Renlea; Hibernius Druid
Thanks for posting the historical background on Ash Wednesday. Most interesting!
34 posted on 02/20/2004 9:04:10 AM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: All
Lent: Where Did It Come From?

Do you know that Lent literally means “lengthening of days,” or the “coming of spring time”?

Do you know that Lent is the only season of the Church that starts on a weekday?

Do you know how Lent has come to be what it is today? Here is the story at a glance…

The early Jewish Christians superimposed their worship of Jesus, the new Passover, on the annual celebration and understanding of Jewish Passover. This was preceded by a day of fasting.

The early Gentile Christian’s custom of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays and celebration of the breaking of bread after Sabbath merged with the new Passover celebration and the annual Easter feast was now celebrated on the Sunday closest to the Jewish Passover.

The Saturday before Easter Sunday became designated as a fast day and since the Friday fast was already in place, there emerged a two-day pre-Easter fast that later was extended to begin the Sunday before Easter (weeklong fast).

A process of initiation to become a Christian emerged in the third century that extended over a period of time and included several stages marked by a ritual celebration with baptisms most often celebrated during the 50 days between Passover and Pentecost.

The Council of Nicea set forth a forty day preparatory fast and a determined fixed date for the celebration of Easter.
A three week preparatory fast for baptism emerged in the 5th century.

Lent emerged as a six week period beginning on the first Sunday of Lent in the 4th century.
Since Sundays were not fast days in the sixth century, four more days were added into the six weeks to get the 40 days of Lent (modeled on Jesus’ 40 days in the desert) by beginning Lent on the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent.

Three scrutinies for those preparing for baptism emerged in the 8th century and are celebrated on three consecutive Sundays (3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent).

The Second Vatican council restored a simpler earlier version of Lenten observance that eliminated the three penitential Sundays that had emerged in the 5th and 6th centuries. Lent now was to begin with Ash Wednesday and continue with the five Sundays of Lent, concluding with the Mass of Holy Thursday.

(Adapted from the Word and Worship Workbook for Year C. Mary Birmingham. New York: Paulist Press, 1998, pp.113-114.]
35 posted on 02/20/2004 10:13:43 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Thank you!!! :-)
36 posted on 02/20/2004 10:27:39 AM PST by BlessedBeGod
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave
Thank you so much!
37 posted on 02/20/2004 10:28:38 AM PST by BlessedBeGod
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: BlessedBeGod

Take a few minutes to review the Lenten tradition that you want to know more about. Begin by reflecting on this key passage from the Book of Isaiah.

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
(Isaiah 58:6-7, NAB)
38 posted on 02/20/2004 11:55:08 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: BlessedBeGod
You're welcome. I remember as a child being able to have cookies (or candy or whatever was given up for Lent) on Sundays.

Another note, technically, alcohol does not break a fast. It may not be in the spirit (get it?) of a penitential day, but it isn't considered a "food."

SD

39 posted on 02/20/2004 12:05:04 PM PST by SoothingDave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave
LOL about the alcohol. Really not funny.

We didn't have any on our poor Nebraska farm, so I guess I grew up quite naive.
40 posted on 02/20/2004 1:03:24 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave

What the Church Teaches About Lent




1. General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar

"Lent is a preparation for the celebration of Easter. For the Lenten liturgy disposes both catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery: catechumens, through several stages of Christian initiation; the faithful, through reminders of their own baptism and through penitential practices." (#27)

2. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Documents of Vatican II)

109. The season of Lent has a twofold character; primarily by recalling or preparing for Baptism and by Penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the Word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence both in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis. Hence:

a) More use is to be made of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy; some of them, which used to flourish in bygone days, are to be restored as may seem good.

b) The same is to apply to the penitential elements. As regards instruction it is important to impress on the minds of the faithful not only the social consequences of sin but also that essence of the virtue of penance which leads to the detestation of sin as an offense against God; the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners.

110. During Lent penance should not be only internal and individual, but also external and social. The practice of penance should be fostered in ways that are possible in our own times and in different regions and according to the circumstances of the faithful&

Nevertheless, let the paschal fast be kept sacred. Let it be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday and where possible prolonged throughout Holy Saturday, so that the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection may be attained with uplifted and clear mind.


41 posted on 02/20/2004 1:04:19 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Sorry. Of course one shouldn't be getting drunk on a fast day. Whether in Nebraska or not.

SD

42 posted on 02/20/2004 1:20:52 PM PST by SoothingDave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave
I didn't to imply that at all. OK this is going too far, Dave.
43 posted on 02/20/2004 1:54:09 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
We have not yet begun to go too far. ;-)

Have a great weekend. Lent is coming. :-)

SD

44 posted on 02/20/2004 1:58:02 PM PST by SoothingDave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
My parish seems to be getting better and better all the time. We are actually having a "mission" during Lent. Remember those? The theme will be Our Lady of Sorrows. Confession will be offered everyday during the mission. Honestly, I haven't experienced a parish mission since the 1960s.
45 posted on 02/20/2004 4:54:16 PM PST by k omalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SoothingDave
I got to worrying this afternoon thinking that you might be taking me too seriously. Glad that didn't happen!
46 posted on 02/20/2004 7:25:16 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: k omalley
The Seven Sorrows of Mary were in one of the Mass commentaries that I posted last week. I'll look for it for you.
47 posted on 02/20/2004 7:26:19 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: k omalley
Missions are wonderful if you have a good mission master.

We had Father Emerito from India do one for us last year. It was outstanding. He preached on the hard hitting topics: abortion, marriage fidelity, drugs and other addictions. He was just outstanding. Heard confessions before Mass, after Mass, in the evening before the Mission, after the Mission, by appointment........I think almost everyone went to confession. He was so holy!

Anyway:

Here are the sorrows ---

TODAY'S TIDBIT

The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are,
the prophecy of Simeon;
the flight into Egypt;
losing Jesus in Jerusalem;
meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
standing at the foot of the Cross;
Jesus being taken from the Cross;
and the burial of Christ.


That looks like it will be perfect before Lent or during Lent.
48 posted on 02/20/2004 7:34:39 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Thanks, Salvation! I am really looking forward to a good Lent. So often I make big resolutions which never come to fruition. Sure hope I do better this year!
49 posted on 02/21/2004 5:28:38 AM PST by k omalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

To: All

BTTT in preparation for Lent 2005!


50 posted on 02/05/2005 11:55:05 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-76 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson