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How to keep the Traditional Lenten Fast February 28, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, Latin Mass, Lent, North Deanery, Tradition, Virtue.

I meant to post this a week ago, darnit, but it completely slipped my mind (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!).  David Werling, at his gorgeous site, has very helpfully reminded what constitutes a traditional keeping of the Lenten fast. That is to say, this is how the fast was kept before all the indults and changes relaxed the discipline greatly.  I will say I, and my family, are not at the point of practicing this fully just yet.  I doubt we will do the full fast in this manner this Lent, but we will try to up the days of fast and abstinence/partial abstinence to three instead of one – Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Hey, it’s Ember Week anyway, so we were going to need to keep a 3 day fast, but we’ll strive to carry it through all of Lent.  Anyway, the particulars:

According to the traditional Lenten Fast:

*all days of Lent are days of fast and partial abstinence, except:

*Ash Wednesday and the Wednesday in the Lenten Embertide, which are days of fast and abstinence;

*Fridays and Saturdays, which are fast and abstinence;

*Sundays, which are neither fast nor abstinence.

Abstinence: In the Latin Church, abstinence means refraining from eating flesh meat, or in other words, meat from mammals or fowl. This includes soup or gravy made from these kinds of meats. Meat from cold blooded animals is allowed, however, such as fish. This is why Fridays are known as “Fish Fridays.” Traditionally, the laws of abstinence apply to all aged 7 and over, but the new Code of Canon Law applies it to all who have completed their 14th year.

Partial abstinence: Flesh meat, and soup or gravy made from flesh meat, may be eaten only once during the course of the day, at the principle meal.

Fasting: Eating only one full meal (which may include meat) and two smaller, meatless meals that don’t equal the large one meal. No eating is allowed between meals, but various beverages such as water, milk, tea, coffee, and juices can be consumed. Meat can be eaten, usually for the principle meal, but only if the day is not a day of abstinence as well as a fast day. Traditionally, everyone over 21 years of age and under 59 years of age is bound to observe the law of fast; but the present Code of Canon Law sets the ages of 18 and 59 as the limits.

As in all things, we need to practice the virtue of prudence. All situations should be weighed in the light of Christ’s love. Traditional Catholics fast in order to share in the sacrifice of Christ and to discipline the body. Our bodily discipline should be directed toward the cultivation of virtue, not an indulgence in austerities for the sake of show or false pretenses.

This is pretty challenging, far more so than the discipline currently in force in the United States (or anywhere in the Church, for that matter, of which I am aware).  It is thus completely voluntary to try to follow this schedule.  You will not incur any penalty if you do not.  But there are great Graces for those who do follow this more rigorous schedule of fasting and self-denial!  Joyful adherence to this much more rigorous fast will lead to tremendous spiritual benefits and growth. 

What do you think?  Too much, or something worth trying?

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