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Monday, February 23, 2009

Lent is coming -- so here is a brush up on the rules

  • Lent begins at midnight Ash Wednesday and ends at the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, at which point Triduum begins.

  • We are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

  • The law of fast binds everybody from ages 18-59 unless they have a medical condition that would interfere significantly with fasting.

  • The law of fast allows the eating of one full meal plus two smaller meals, provided the two smaller- meals are not as large as a regular meal if combined. This law is confusing as many people tend not to eat similarly-sized meals.

  • We are obliged to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday.

  • The law of abstinence binds everyone who is fourteen years old and up unless they have a medical condition that would interfere significantly with abstinence from meat.

  • The law of abstinence forbids the eating dishes principally or substantially comprised of the flesh of land-dwelling mammals and birds (NOTE: trace amounts of meat and other parts of the body besides meat do not count). It does not affect gravies or other sauces (even if these are made with meat), and it does not affect anything made from parts of land-dwelling animals other their meat (so milk, cheese, eggs, things made with animal fat, and Jell-O, which comes from hooves, are okay).

  • Lent is not forty days long. It may have been at one time, but the way the Church's liturgical documents are written today, Lent is just under 44 days long. (It would be forty-four if it didn't end on the evening of Holy Thursday.)

  • The way the Church's documents are written, Sundays are part of Lent, but since penances other than fast and abstinence on the required days are voluntary, you can cut yourself a break on Sunday from whatever other penance you may have decided to do.

  • To fulfill our Easter duty,we are obliged to receive Communion at some point between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost (unless for a just cause this requirement is fulfilled at another time of year).

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