In the ‘ceremonial of Bishops” the following is stated: “The annual observance of Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter. Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation …” The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.” Here are some Lenten observations.
LENGTH OF THE SEASON OF LENT – LENT runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening . If we include the fast of the Triduum (Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil) there are 46 days. When we speak of the forty days of Lent, we are really speaking of the forty days of the Lenten fast. The Sunday’s on Lent are not included in the Lenten fasts because of Sunday being the Lord’s Day, a little Easter. How can the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them.
DAYS OF FAST – In the Church there are only two days of fasting – both during this season of grace. The first is ASH WEDNESDAY and the second is GOOD FRIDAY. FASTING officially involves eating only one full meal during the day, with the possibility of two smaller meals allowed for health reasons. Fasting is required of all Catholics 18 to 59. Fasting should never threaten or impair one’s health issues. These two days are also days of ABSTINENCE which means refraining from eating meat and meat products, and is for all Catholics 14 and older.
DAYS OF ABSTINENCE – are Ash Wednesday, and EVERY FRIDAY during Lent including Good Friday. Abstinence means not eating meat and meat products, Those excused from fast and abstinence outside of the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant and nursing women. Common sense should prevail and health should not be jeopardized.
FRIDAY’S during Lent should be particular days of prayer and penitence, with extra acts of charity, generosity and prayer involving daily Mass or the Stations of the Cross.