7 Quick Takes – Volume 2
7 Quick Takes Friday: The Things I Forget About Lent…
It’s Steve’s turn! Which means, I am never happy with using other peoples’ graphics. Therefore, I whipped up a cooler looking “7 quick takes” banner.
So I thought I’d look at the 7 most common things (that I’ve noticed) people usually forget about Lenten practices!!!
— 1 —
You must abstain from meat on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday:
Some have gone around teaching that the Church doesn’t require us to abstain from meat on Fridays anymore, and while an act of charity can be done instead on other Fridays, this does not apply for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday! But come on, you can handle just two days out of the whole year, can’t you?
Abstaining from meat is required by canon law on all Fridays, year round, unless it is a Solemnity, or unless substituted by a special act of charity or piety (in Canada, and the US too I believe). That is not the case for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. There are no exceptions to eating meat on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, unless you are under the age of 14, or over the age of 60. (Those age requirements also apply to abstaining on other Fridays of the year).
Of course, health reasons can also be an exception. And I don’t mean saying, “but it’s bad for my health to go a day without eating a succulent steak with a side of bacon!”
— 2 —
You must fast on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday:
Fasting is also required without exception on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (unless over the age of 60 or under the age of having “attained their majority” which is 18 years or older in the US, and I think the same in Canada). This is also canon law. Fasting consists of eating one normal meal, and two smaller meals that add up to less than the whole meal. So basically, under two whole meals. A great fasting practice is also to eat only bread and water. Whatever you choose, you do actually have to fast in addition to abstaining on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Of course, the Church also highly encourages fasting on other days throughout Lent, such as all the other Fridays of Lent. In some Eastern traditions, they fast and abstain through the whole course of Lent, every day. So I don’t want to hear any complaining, k?
Again, health reasons can also be an exception. Don’t kill yourselves. But also don’t be a wimp.
— 3 —
Fasting from sin doesn’t count as fulfilling the Lenten fast:
Apart from fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we all know that we are supposed to “give something up” for Lent. This is part of “fasting” for Lent. Sometimes, apart from food, we look to fast from other things to grow in virtue. If you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing, and then decide to give that up for Lent, you can’t pat yourself on the back and say you are giving something up for Lent. Nope. That’s giving up something you simply ought to give up in the first place. Don’t wait around for Lent to stop eating in excess, or to stop sleeping around, or to stop beating up your siblings. Just stop doing those things period. For Lent, we should examine our lives and ask, “in what ways do I fall short?” and then try to give up something or reduce a practice which is itself not sinful, but will help us grow in virtue. Also don’t sell short the benefit of fasting from food. Many Saints in the Church have commented on how fasting from food can help us gain greater control of our passions. Because when we do not succumb to our basic desires (such as to eat) we build a resilience of will that allows us to be more able to say no to other temptations.
— 4 —
Additional prayer is also part of Lenten practice:
We all know about giving something up for Lent as fulfilling the requirement to “fast” (I’m not speaking about the food fasts mentioned in 1 and 2), but often forget that we are to add on to our prayers. The whole point is we are supposed to use Lent to root out the sin in our lives and draw closer to God. Well, you gotta pray to make that happen! So we are called to pray on top of what we’re already praying! Come up with something that you think will help you reflect more deeply in this Lenten season!
— 5 —
Almsgiving is the third major practice of Lent
We fast, we pray, but we are also to give alms. Now, doing works of charity definitely are important and cannot be overlooked, and we should push ourselves to do more works of charity… but the Church is particularly asking us to give alms, that is, money. In older practices of the faith, Lent was a time where people would fast particularly of food, and then the money that they saved was then all given to those in need. So maybe give that some thought, and spend less money on something you normally like to have, and use that money towards someone in need! But also give until it hurts. Don’t just give some piddly change that you won’t really notice otherwise. It’s good to give to the point that we feel the sting of the loss of our money, so that we can be reminded that God is truly all we need.
— 6 —
Go to Mass!
Yeah I know this isn’t a Lenten requirement. Sunday Mass though is an every-week requirement! I do think it would be a wonderful way to really enter into Lent by going to Mass more frequently, and trying to catch some of the weekday Masses. Also don’t cop out come Easter, and attend Mass on Holy Thursday, the Good Friday Service, Holy Saturday Mass, and hey, if you’ve never been to an Easter Vigil, definitely check that one out! You can attend either the vigil or one of the Easter morning Masses, but it doesn’t hurt to go to both, because they’re celebrated very differently!
In Canada, sadly, only Sundays and Christmas and The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (New Year’s day) are required days for Mass. You still have to go to Easter, because it’s on a Sunday 😉 … but it’s really good to make sure you come out for as many of the feast day celebrations in the liturgical calendar. You shouldn’t be forced to go to Mass, but want desperately to go to Mass.
— 7 —
Priests, don’t be afraid of wearing rose-coloured vestments on Laetare Sunday!
I wasn’t sure if it was a requirement, so I just looked it up in the GIRM, and #346 says it’s optional. But I just figure, if we have the option, why not take advantage of it! Laetare Sunday occurs on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and is meant to show the joy through the hardship, that in these 40 days in the wilderness, the Lord comes to refresh us and remind us of what is to come: the joy of the Resurrection! So hey, I just think that priests should learn to cope with feeling uncomfortable with their appearance, dressed in pink, and just see the beauty of the sign that it gives to the people, to remind them that Lent will soon pass and the Resurrection feast is coming soon.