For those of you who may think that Lent is a pretty tough time to be a Catholic, giving up chocolate and all year in and year out, this came to me email today. This is what our forebears did for Lent in these USA (my emphases and comments):
DIOCESE OF NEWARK.
(1873) REGULATIONS FOR LENT.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, will fall on the twenty-sixth day of February.
1. Every day during Lent except Sunday, is a day of fast on one meal, which should no be taken before mid-day, with the allowance of a moderate collation in the evening.
2. The precept of fasting implies also that of abstinence from the use of flesh meat, but by dispensation, the use of flesh meat is allowed in this Diocese at every meal on Sunday, and at the principal meal on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, of Lent except Holy Thursday. [But not Wednesday and Friday and Saturday]
3. There is no prohibition to use eggs, butter or cheese, provided the rules of quantity prescribed by the fast be complied with. Fish is not to be used at the same meals at which flesh meat is allowed. [No surf and turf, friends.]
Butter, or if necessary lard, may be used in dressing of fish or vegetables.
4. All persons over seven years of age are bound to abstain from the use of flesh meat, and all over twenty-one to fast according to the above regulations unless there be a legitimate cause of exemption. The Church excuses from the obligations of fasting, but not from that of abstinence from flesh meat, except in special cases of sickness or the like, the following classes of persons: 1st, the infirm; 2nd, those whose duties are of an exhausting or laborious character; 3rd, women in pregnancy, or nursing infants; 4th, those who are enfeebled by old age. In case of doubt in regard to any of the above exemptions, recourse must be had to one’s spiritual director, or physician.
All alike, should enter into the spirit of this holy season, which is, in a special manner, a time of prayer, and sorrow for sin, of almsgiving, and mortification.
The faithful are reminded that by a special privilege granted d by the Holy see to the faithful of this Diocese, a Plenary Indulgence may be gained on the usual conditions, on St. Patrick’s Day or any day, within the Octave. [This does NOT dispense Catholics from the Lenten discipline on St. Paatrick’s Day, a dopey practice now which I abhor, promethean neopelagian that I am.]
By order of the Very Reverend Administrator,
GEORGRE H. DOANE. Secretary.
Bishop’s House, Newark, Feb. 6., A.D. 1873.
NB: Catholics are not obliged to follow the regulations of 1873. You are obliged to follow them as they are hic et nunc, here and now. Be sure you know the regulations in your country. If you decide to do more than what the regulations require here and now, fine. But don’t trumpet the fact and don’t look down on those who choose not to add things on beyond the regulations.