QUAERITUR: Are Sundays part of Lent?

lentFrom a reader:

Someone told me that it is wrong to do penance on Sundays during Lent. Are Sundays part of Lent? The “forty days” seem to be the week days only. Also, we hear that every Sunday is like Easter. So, do we have to do penance on Sundays during Lent?

When we look at the calendar, we see “1st Sunday of Lent”, not “1st Sunday During Lent Which Doesn’t Have To Be Treated As If It Were Lent”.

Sundays during Lent are during Lent, right? Lent is a penitential season, right?

During Holy Mass yesterday, for the 1st Sunday of Lent, I read (in the Extraordinary Form) about abstinence (in the Collect), fasting (in the Epistle), the Lord fasting (in the Gospel), fasting and refraining from bodily pleasures (in the Secret), bodily fasting and curbing vices (in the Preface) … get the point? This is for the Sunday Mass.

Sundays of Lent are also imbued with a penitential spirit, though we can see that Sunday, being an echo of Easter, isn’t going to be as penitential as, for example, Friday.

As far as the “forty” is concerned the days of Lent are forty, excluding the Sundays. The Triduum is also apart.  But the whole season, from Ash Wednesday on, is Lent.

The joy of a Sunday during Lent has to be penitential joy, or rather joyful penitence.

The Sundays of Lent do not have a Gloria or Alleluia. Perhaps that should be reflected in our lives and meals as well? There are the Solemnities of St. Joseph and of the Annunciation, which liturgically have the Gloria, though not the Alleluia. Take your cue from that. We are not obliged to do penance on solemnites. However, we are still within the penitential season of Lent.

We celebrate these solemnities, but let us not forget that it is Lent.

Moreover, even if on a Sunday we decide to relax somewhat our penitential physical mortification, we can perhaps perform even more corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Some people have a custom of feeding the poor on the Feast of St. Joseph.

St. Pope Leo the Great in sermons on Lent reveals that for our ancient Roman forebears people fasted and abstained and cut back on what was necessary, not on what was in excess, so that they could give the difference to the poor.

We can have some festive joy, but perhaps the best way to preserve our penitential spirit on these exceptions to the rule is to engage in corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Let Lent be Lent.

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46 Responses to QUAERITUR: Are Sundays part of Lent?

  1. In his sermon for this past Friday’s LiveMass.net, the celebrant pointed out that Ash Wednesday is the 46th day before Easter Sunday, so we get the “40 days of Lent”–in Latin, the season of Quadragesimae, “Lent” being strictly an English word–by subtracting the 6 Sundays during this season from 46.

    He went on to mention to that, while the liturgy of the Lenten Sundays bears a penitential character, the day set aside to celebrate the Lord is not really a day of penance. I once heard another traditional priest say that for the honor of God, it’s just as important to feast on Sundays and feast days, as to fast on fast days.

    Whence, I think some traditional Catholics who still fast all 40 days of Lent, do not fast on the Sundays during Lent.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    I have always understood that fasting was not to be observed on Sundays and holy days of obligation. There is an article on that topic here: http://catholicism.about.com/b/2008/02/29/reader-question-should-we-fast-on-sundays.htm

  3. Mary Jane says:

    This is a great explanation, Fr Z. Thanks!

  4. aquinas138 says:

    Isn’t it likely that the name “Quadragesima” was originally symbolic rather than arithmetical, like the Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima? Ash Wednesday is a later development (as can be clearly seen in the Extraordinary Form, since the full Lenten propers do not begin until Quadragesima Sunday); it was probably fixed as the beginning of Lent to make the 40 days more arithmetical.

  5. “originally symbolic rather than arithmetical, like the Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima?”

    Well, perhaps not solely symbolic. After all, these three Sundays are (resp.) the 63rd, 56th, 49th days preceding Easter Sunday, and thus occur within the 7th (septua), 6th (sexa), 5th (quinqua) decades of days preceding Easter.

  6. Centristian says:

    Father Z seems to have it right. If the Lenten call to penance were to have no bearing on the Sundays of Lent, why would Lent be reflected in the liturgy on Sunday? Purple vestments are used, not white. Readings that reflect the season are chosen, the organ and the bells are (supposed to be) silenced (although at the Tridentine Mass I went to this Sunday the altar server rang bells whereas at the Ordinary Form a clapper was used), and our sanctuaries tend to have a barren, penitential look about them.

    Do we have to do penance on Sundays during Lent? No. We only “have” to do penance on days prescribed by the Church, like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the Fridays of Lent (and then only in terms of very light dietary sacrifices). But I’m sure that doesn’t mean that we cannot do penance on Sunday. If we are expected to feast (not possible for every budget), penances haven’t got to be dietary or physical in any way, however, as Father Z points out. One can feast and give alms. One can feast and pray more. One can enjoy a surf and turf dinner with a bottle of Merlot and creme brulee for dessert and still refrain from watching the game or that movie or that show, afterwards, opting to read from Scripture instead.

    It seems to me that something of the spirit of the Lenten season ought to be maintained, even on Sundays.

  7. Will D. says:

    This Lent, I am moderating my feast on Sundays (and the Solemnity of the Annunciation), but I am not fasting to the degree I would during the week.

  8. JLCG says:

    I abstain from meat on Wednesday and fast on Friday and then I find myself eating a big piece of salami on early morning Thursday and having a large breakfast on Saturday. Proof that the “penance” has not done anything to me. I have come to realize that penance is a continuous moderation perhaps accented on the day when Our Lord was betrayed and the day when He was killed but penance should be continuous.
    Do we need any other reason for penance than the horrible article by Doyle?

  9. rfox2 says:

    As we do all things in the bonds of charity and good faith as Christians, and given that our entire life here on earth until our resurrection is a “valley of tears”, even days outside of Lent and primarily on Fridays should have a penitential aspect. Joy mixed with sorrow. Lent is a special liturgical season for penance and good works, forging the soul. However, as others have stated, and I concur, Sundays are always a celebration of Easter, and only a Solemnity trumps the importance of Sundays as a celebration of the resurrection. I’ve always heard it said that traditionally, Sundays fall outside of Lent. Even so, we shouldn’t be any more glutinous or any less abstemious than we would any other time. If we relax some of our penitential practices on Sundays in the midst of Lent, perhaps we should increase almsgiving and other good works to celebrate the Resurrection. It’s too reductionistic to view Sundays in the midst of Lent as a “get out of jail free” card.

  10. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Great post Fr. Z. I hear people talking about being glad that on Sunday they can do what they want, because “technically” Sunday is not a pentitenial day. I ask, “since when does holiness and Christian perfection hinge on the technicalities??” It seems to me that the great saints, and the great priest saints as well, went far beyond the technicalities of law to live out a spirit of the more you give to God, the better.

  11. guatadopt says:

    I’ve been fasting for Lent since I was a teen, about 15 years now. However, I will not fast on Sundays, on St Jospeh’s day nor, if applicable, on the Annunciation. I agree that “Lent should be Lent” and is penitential. But, just as Holy Church has deemed Lent as a time of fasting and penance, so too she deemed Sundays and Solemnities as days of rejoicing. Thus, even during Lent we can remember the Resurrection on Sundays and celebrate major feasts of the church on the appropriate days. Honestly, I would feel very weird fasting on a Sunday. I won’t go “crazy” and will tend to eat much more moderately, but I can’t see myself fasting on the Lord’s Day. Let us not forget that while the suffering and death of Our Lord is his greatest gift to us, the Resurrection freed us from sin and opened the way to Father. If Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain. I always try to keep that perspective as well during Lent.

  12. ReginaMarie says:

    In the Eastern Catholic Churches, Great Lent actually begins on Clean Monday, 48 days before the feast of Pascha (Easter). The name Clean Monday alludes to the leaving behind of sinful attitudes or behavior as well as non-fasting foods. Great Lent then continues for the next 5 Sundays: Triumph of Orthodoxy, Holy Relics & St. Gregory Palamas, Veneration of the Holy Cross, Commemoration of our Holy Father John Climacus, & the Commemoration of our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt. Unlike in the West, in the East, Sundays are included in the 40 days of Lent. Also, in the Eastern tradition, Holy Week is not a part of the 40 days but is considered as a separate entity from the rest of Great Lent.

  13. Jerry says:

    Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which required fasting throughout Lent, the exemption to fasting and abstinence on Holy Days of Obligation did not apply during Lent.

  14. disco says:

    Is there a difference between saying, “first Sunday in lent” and “first Sunday of lent”? My parish uses the former.

  15. priests wife says:

    reginamarie- yes (about Byzantine practices) but during Lent even the strictest discipline in abstaining for us adds fish on Sundays- so Sundays are part of lent for us but still set apart as a little different than a ‘normal’ day

  16. Mary Jane says:

    @ Centristian – I was curious about your statement about the organ and bells being silenced during Lent. I’ve been attending the EF my whole life and have never been to a parish where the bells were silenced during Lent (except of course during the appropriate point in the Triduum).

  17. Mary Jane says:

    Just as a follow-up comment — what I’ve experienced regarding bells during Lent is the following: the bells are used throughout Lent and on Holy Thursday the bells are rung continuously while the Gloria is sung (chant or polyphony). After this, the bells are silenced and a clapper is used. The bells are not heard again until Easter Vigil.

  18. Simon_GNR says:

    Even the new translation of the Missal has it wrong! The Sundays during Lent are “in Lent”, not “of Lent”, as per the new Missal.

    My “Saint Andrew Daily Missal”, published by the Liturgical Apostolate of the Abbey of Saint-Andre, Belgium (1956), has the Sundays during Lent listed as “First Sunday in Lent”, “Second Sunday in Lent” etc.

    In the Missale Romanum (2002) the Sundays during lent are listed as “Dominica II in Quadragesima”, “Dominica III in Quadragesima” etc rather than “Dominica II Quadragesimae”, “Dominica III in Quadragesimae” etc. The Sundays of Advent are listed as “Dominica II Adventus”, “Dominica III Adventus” etc which are correctly translated as the “Second Sunday of Advent”, the “Third Sunday of Advent” etc. It is clear then that in the Latin, Sundays are “in Lent”, not “of Lent”, and there seems to be no good reason why the preposition “in” was not correctly translated into English.

    [Interesting point!]

  19. cpaulitz says:

    Father, I think some clarification would help. [I thought that what I wrote was pretty clear! o{]:¬) ]

    While it’s still lent, and we shouldn’t party like it’s 1999, we also shouldn’t continue our penance on Sundays. That was never the case traditionally speaking. You can’t fast and feast at the same time, and Sunday ALWAYS trumps the fast.

    Many modern Catholics use Lent as one big diet and continue it on Sundays, completely negating any good that comes from it. This shouldn’t be encouraged.

    Also, if one wants to fast on Sundays in Lent, I think only one’s confessor should be the judge of whether that is meritorious or not.

  20. Centristian says:

    @Mary Jane:

    As I say, the bells were rung at the Tridentine Mass I attended. I believe they are only silenced in the EF, as you say, from the Gloria of Maundy Thursday through the Gloria of the Easter Vigil. With respect to the use of the crotalus in the OF I suppose the custom varies from parish to parish. At the Ordinary Form Mass I went to this Sunday (I go to both on Sundays, lately), the clapper was used in place of the bells.

  21. AnnAsher says:

    I am mirroring the Catholic East – some wine and olive oil adding some sugar allowed on Sunday. But not feasting.

  22. Geoffrey says:

    In the Liturgy of the Hours at Lauds on the Sundays of Lent, the following is always read:

    “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9b, 10b) .

    I would assume that Mother Church has placed this text there for a reason. While Sundays in Lent should not be “days of feasting”, neither should they be viewed as Fridays, as Fr Z said.

  23. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Great post, Father. As ever, a reasoned balance of true Romanità.

  24. A Dominican Priest says:

    I would not quibble with Fr. Z’s exhortation to a joyful penitence on the Sundays of Lent; certainly, they should be have a rather different character than the Sundays of Easter.

    On the specific question of fasting on Sundays, however, I cannot imagine one would be in error were he to follow the recommendation of St. Thomas Aquinas, who is, after all, the “Doctor Communis,” that one ought NOT to fast on Sundays (Thomas says that fasting is eating only one meal a day – so he’s not talking here about giving up dessert!). Aquinas writes:

    “[T]he fasts appointed by the commandment of the Church are rather “fasts of sorrow” which are inconsistent with days of joy. For this reason fasting is not ordered by the Church during the whole of the Paschal season, nor on Sundays: and if anyone were to fast at these times in contradiction to the custom of Christian people, which as Augustine declares (Ep. xxxvi) “is to be considered as law,” or even through some erroneous opinion (thus the Manichees fast, because they deem such fasting to be of obligation)—he would not be free from sin. Nevertheless fasting considered in itself is commendable at all times; thus Jerome wrote (Ad Lucin., Ep. lxxi): “Would that we might fast always.”"
    —Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 1467, a. 5 ad 3.

    [Thus my suggestion, above: "We can have some festive joy, but perhaps the best way to preserve our penitential spirit on these exceptions to the rule is to engage in corporal and spiritual works of mercy."]

  25. A Dominican Priest says:

    Oops: Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 147, a. 5 ad 3.

  26. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Dear Fr_Sotelo,

    Just read back a found your post in which you refer to people being “glad that on Sunday they can do what they want.”

    Well, that should be what the Church teaches, shouldn’t it? That would make them think!

    A Holy Lent to you Father.

  27. PaterAugustinus says:

    Many Misslas – especially old ones – *do* say “xth Sunday IN Lent.” As other commentators note, even the modern Missal says this. My Fuldensian Sacramentary (10th century) and Missal of Robert de Jumieges (11th century) both number Sundays *in* Lent: i.e., “Dominica III in XL.” Also, easy answer: count the days from Ash Wednesday to Pascha: there are forty days *not counting Sundays.* Sundays are not numbered among the forty days of Lent.

    Now, over time both East and West began to develop notions of Lent concluding at Passiontide or Holy Week or the Triduum, which have in different times and places been considered to be “after” Lent. But, this has more to do with the liturgical reckoning of the observances leading up to Pascha, than it does with the general tenor of the whole season and its fasting regimen (since the fasting continues right on through these breaks in the liturgical reckoning). The fasting is clearly intended to number forty days, right up to the main events – either to Pascha itself (in the West), or to Good Friday (in the East, hence they start Lent two days earlier, the Monday before Ash Wednesday), when the nature of the fasting does change significantly. In neither Church are the Sundays numbered amongst the forty days of the fasting in Lent. This is all further complicated by the fact that the Orthodox also consider Saturdays to not really be “of” Lent (something clearly seen in the rubrics for the services over the Weekends, and the slight relaxing of the abstinence on Saturdays), and I’ve heard various explanations for fixing the reckoning of fasting days (even pointing to the Cheesefare week right before as a kind of “make-up” for the more moderate fasting of Saturdays).

    When all the vagaries have been analyzed, this fact remains: the Sundays have one foot in, and one foot out, of Lent. Thus far, Fr. Z is right in saying that these Sundays should still be marked with special sobriety. But, we also need to leave room for the ancient piety, regarding Sundays as being somehow both “in” and “apart from” Lent. Lenten Sundays are an image of those consolations and respites we receive from God along the Lenten journey that is life itself. Lenten Sundays are a brief lull in the battle, a sunburst between stormclouds. We get to rest for a breather, but the race isn’t done.

    P.S.: “resting for a breather” doesn’t mean “lying supine whilst breathing heavily through a face-full of sausage.”

  28. pelerin says:

    Oh dear – I have always understood that anything chosen to do in Lent was relaxed on Sundays as these were not counted in the 40 days. So failed this year only 5 days in!

  29. John Pepino says:

    Abstinence, fasting, or both did not oblige on Sundays of Lent in the 1917 code, canon 1252.4:
    “Vel festis de praecepto lex abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum cessat.”
    ‘On feasts of obligation the law of abstinence, or of abstinence and fasting, or of fasting alone ceases.’
    This means Sundays: H. Noldin De Praeceptis (Innsbruck 1938) n. 674.4 comments:
    “Praeceptum abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum non obligat diebus dominicis sive extra sive intra quadragesimam, nec obligat diebus festis de praecepto extra quadragesimam” : ‘The precept of abstinence, or of abstinence and fasting, or of fasting alone does not oblige on Sundays, whether within Lent or outside of it, and it does not oblige on feast days of obligation outside of Lent.’

    [Nice! Thanks for checking a manual. This pleases Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists.]

  30. James Joseph says:

    If Sunday is part of Lent then the Protestants are correct. No smiling on Sundays! No music either! Sunday is Easter… nuff said.

  31. jhayes says:

    It’s interesting to see what fasting was like in the time of the Catholic Encyclopedia (things have changed since then , of course)

    Besides a complete meal, the Church now permits a collation usually taken in the evening. In considering this point proper allowance must be made for what custom has introduced regarding both the quantity and the quality of viands allowed at this repast. In the first place, about eight ounces of food are permitted at the collation even though this amount of food would fully satisfy the appetites of some persons. Moreover, the attention must be paid to each person’s temperament, duties, length of fast, etc. Hence, much more food is allowed in cold than in warm climates, more to those working during the day than to those at ease, more to the weak and hungry than to the strong and well fed. As a general rule whatever is deemed necessary in order to enable people to give proper attention to their duties may be taken at the collation. Moreover, since custom first introduced the collation, the usage of each country must be considered in determining the quality of viands permitted thereat. In some places eggs, milk, butter, cheese and fish are prohibited, while bread, cake, fruit, herbs and vegetables are allowed. In other places, milk, eggs, cheese, butter and fish are permitted, owing either to custom or to Indult. This is the case in the United States. However, in order to form judgments perfectly safe concerning this point, the Lenten regulations of each diocese should be carefully read. Finally, a little tea, coffee, chocolate or such like beverage together with a morsel of bread or a cracker is now allowed in the morning. Strictly speaking, whatever may be classified under the head of liquids may be taken as drink or medicine at any time of the day or night on fasting days. Hence, water, lemonade, soda, water, ginger ale, wine, beer and similar drinks may be taken on fasting days outside meal time even though such beverages may, to some extent, prove nutritious. Coffee, tea, diluted chocolate, electuaries made of sugar, juniper berries, and citron may be taken on fasting days, outside meal time, as medicine by those who find them conducive to health. Honey, milk, soup, broth, oil or anything else having the nature of food, is not allowed under either of the two categories already specified. It is impossible to decide mathematically how much food is necessary to involve a serious violation of this law. Moralists as well as canonists concur in holding that an excess of four ounces would seriously militate against the obligation of fasting, whether that much food was consumed at once or at various intervals during the day because Alexander VII (18 March, 1666) condemned the teaching of those who claimed that food so taken was not to be regarded as equalling or exceeding the amount allowed (Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum, tenth ed. Freiburg im Br., 1908, No. 1129).

    Though Benedict XIV (Constitutions, Non Ambiginius, 31 May, 1741; in superna, 22 Aug. 1741) granted permission to eat meat on fasting days, he distinctly prohibited the use of fish and flesh at the same meal on all fasting days during the year as well as on Sundays during Lent. (Letter to the Archbishop of Compostella, 10 June, 1745, in Bucceroni Enchiridion Morale No. 147). This prohibition binds all exempted from fasting either because they are compelled to labour or because they are not twenty-one years old. Furthermore this prohibition extends to those allowed meat on fasting days either by dispensation or by Indult. Sin is Committed each time the prohibited action takes place.

  32. mike cliffson says:

    Midlent? laetare sunday? Mothering sunday for Brits? (Includes anglicans) Includes micareme sunday fasting relaxations for anytraddie french canuks, if such exist?

  33. Jerry says:

    Dr. Peters’ translation of 1917 canon 1252.4 in The 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law reads:

    On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or a fast only cease, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise, it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon.

    This translation does not appear to make a distinction between Sundays and days during Lent as John Pepino’s source does. I’ll have to leave it to the Latinists to determine which translation is most accurate.

  34. . . . just a minor question: Is it “Sunday of the First Week of Lent,” or the “First Sunday of Lent?” Aren’t the first 4 days listed as “Ash Wednesday,” and “[Thursday, Friday, Saturday] after Ash Wednesday”? This Wednesday will be “Wednesday of the First Week of Lent,” not the “Second Wednesday in Lent.”

    I know, technically, there’s not much of a difference, but the former also allows one to count 40 in a different fashion (starting on Sunday [the first day] of the First Week of Lent, go to Holy Thursday, include the Sundays, and you get 40. Why the other four aren’t counted, I don’t know, but light may be shed on it by the Holy Father’s recent comment: “This number [40] does not represent an exact chronological time, divided by the sum of the days.”)

  35. ejcmartin says:

    A tricky subject in our house . In pur house we have three birthdays and a wedding anniversary that can fall in Lent. This year they all do.

  36. Fr. W says:

    The 40 days: (From The Liturgical year, Dom Prosper Gueranger)
    “St. Gregory the Great alludes, in one of his homilies, to the fast of Lent being less than forty days, owing to the Sundays which come during that holy season. ‘There are,’ he says, ‘from this day (the 1st Sunday of Lent) to the joyous feast of Easter, six weeks, that is, 42 days. As we do not fast on the 6 Sundays, there are but 36 fasting days…which we offer to God. It was therefore after the pontificate of St. Gregory that the last four days of Quinquagesima week were addd to Lent, in order that the number of fasting days might be exactly 40. (The History of Septuagesima, p. 3)

    “Lent solemnly opens today (1st Sunday of Lent). We have already noticed that the 4 preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up 40 days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the season; for the faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. (Lent, p. 121)

  37. One thing worth mentioning is that whether Sunday should be observed like the rest of Lent depends partly on how one is observing Lent. If one has resolved to give up a particularly difficult sin or vice for Lent, exhaling on Sunday is hardly appropriate.

  38. qowieury says:

    The 40 days of lent are from the Saturday evening before the first Sunday of Lent until the evening of Holy Thursday at which time the Triduum begins. Ash Wednesday and the 3 days after Ash Wednesday are not counted in the 40 days.

    It was forbidden to fast on Sundays in the early Church, especially in the east. But there is development of doctrine. We do fast on the Sundays of Lent now. The 40 days have taken on the character of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert, and he did not take 1 day off a week. The fast is materially harmed when it is not allowed to be 40 continuous days.

  39. Nora says:

    Given that what we do for Lent is pretty much voluntary and is designed for our own growth as Christians, it seems to me that good sense is called for in deciding how to “count” Sundays” the “how” depends on the “what”. In our family for a long time now, we plan both mutual and private observances. We each have our personal Lenten observances: praying all the hours, focusing on eradicating a sin or habit, spiritual reading, whatever. As a family we make a common food sacrifice. It is usually meat, but not invariably; we look at what licit pleasure has most attracted us recently and work from there. The table is the place we are family most effectively and that shared food sacrifice throughout Lent strengthens us for our personal observances.

    During the “-gesima” Sunday weeks, we hack out what we are giving up and on what terms. A big theme in the hacking out is that “what you give up cannot make my life miserable”. A secondary theme is making sure that we are balanced in terms of what is allowed on Sunday. There is no point in allowing the reading of fiction on Sunday. You forget the plot before next Sunday, so why bother? Fewer hours of prayer on Sunday seems dumb too, but computer games? That’s a happy recreation, suitable for enjoying on Sunday in recognition that Sunday is different from other days. It is planned and considered balance. If balanced well, Sundays remain very much “in/of Lent” but elevated. The food aspect is always a “Sundays off”; The Sunday meal is – with a little hyperbole – the Eucharist of the domestic church, and should reflect that dignity. The important thing, I think, is to have a plan that works for one’s growth in holiness during the privileged season of setting a little to the side one’s station in life and focusing on the pursuit of Heaven.

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  41. Inigo says:

    There is a difference between the weekdays of lent and the Sundays liturgically. In the weekdays, everybody is supposed to kneel during the collect and the postcommunio, on Sundays everybody stands. If a solemn mass would be celebrated on a weekday (like Ash Wednesday) then dalmatics are omitted, and instead the planeta plicata is worn by the deacons, or in a small church, only the alb with maniples and stole. Dalmatics are only permitted on lenten sundays, which according to this are an exemption. Also there are no orations on Sundays beginning with “Humiliate capita vestra Deo” only on weekdays. In the Ambrosian rite (as far as I know) the weekdays of lent are celebrated in black, and only the Sundays are in violet (this is also true for the Strigonian rite). So relaxation of the lenten fast is in fact mirrored in the liturgy.

  42. dans0622 says:

    Regarding the 1917 Code, the Latin says: “Diebus dominicis vel festis de praecepto lex abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum cessat, excepto festo tempore Quadragesimae, nec pervigilia anticipantur; item cessat Sabbato Sancto post meridiem.”
    Dr. Peters translated c. 1252.4 as follows: “On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or a fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise, it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon.”

    I can’t say that this is very clear in either language. But, the translation means that the law “excepts” Lent from the mitigation, right?

  43. AAJD says:

    The Byzantine East handles this by saying you do not fast on Sundays (or feasts, e.g., Annunciation), but you continue to abstain. Perhaps the most common expression of this is that we continue to abstain from animal products on weekends, but are permitted to add wine and fish (with a backbone; shellfish are already permitted even on weekdays) to add a mild little ‘festal’ character to Sundays.

  44. The Latin in question of 1917 code, canon 1252.4 reads:

    “Vel festis de praecepto lex abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum cessat.”

    Meaning: ‘The law either of abstinence, or of abstinence and fasting, or of fasting only, ceases on feasts of obligation.’

    Noldin De Praeceptis (Innsbruck 1938) n. 674.4 says:

    “Praeceptum abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum non obligat diebus dominicis sive extra sive intra quadragesimam, nec obligat diebus festis de praecepto extra quadragesimam.”

    Which means:

    “The precept of abstinence, or of abstinence and fasting, or of fasting alone is not binding on Sundays, whether outside of or during Lent, nor does (the precept) bind on feast days of obligation outside of Lent.”

    The Latin of can. 1252.4

    “Diebus dominicis vel festis de praecepto lex abstinentiae, vel abstinentiae et ieiunii, vel ieiunii tantum cessat, excepto festo tempore Quadragesimae, nec pervigilia anticipantur; item cessat Sabbato Sancto post meridiem.”

    This can be rendered as:

    On Sundays or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence, or of abstinence and of fasting, or of fasting only ceases, a feast in the time of Lent excepted, nor are vigils anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy Saturday after midday.

    This is all very nice… from the old Code.

    I still say that Sundays of Lent are still part of Lent and that we should maintain a penitential spirit for the whole season. Doing penance, by the way, doesn’t automatically mean abstaining or fasting. There can also be a positive aspect to penance, of action rather than deprivation.

  45. karlforsite says:

    Lent is actually different in each rite. Lent starts on Clean Monday and last for 40 days until Saturday before Palm Sunday in the Byzantine Rite and other related rites. Holy week is not included in the Great Lent, and Ash Wednesday is not celebrated.

    It starts on Sunday fallowing Ash Wednesday which is not celebrated and Sundays are counted in the forty days in the Ambossian Rite.

    The Coptic Rite including the Ethiopian Rite, Sundays and Saturdays are not counted so the Great Lent begins two or three weeks before our Ash Wednesday.

    In the Latin Rite Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and continues until Holy Saturday although Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Saturday are called the Paschal Tridium now after Pius XII and it is now a more clearly distinguished separate liturgical period. If Sundays are counted, we end up with 46 days of Lent for the Latin Rite, or 43 is the Tridiuum is left out. If Sundays are not counted and the Paschal Tridiuum is not included, we end up with a 37 day’s period for Lent within the Latin Rite.

  46. Edward C. Yong says:

    @priests_wife Matushka, I fear you are mistaken regarding permission for fish on Sundays! The only two days in Great Lent on which fish is permitted are Annunciation and Palm Sunday.