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GUIDE FOR LENT - What the Catholic Church Says
NCR ^ | Lent 2008

Posted on 02/04/2008 9:42:59 AM PST by NYer

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1438: “The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.

Fridays, Lent and Year Round

Canon 1250: “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics:

“Fridays During Lent — In the United States, the tradition of abstaining from meat on each Friday during Lent is maintained.

“Fridays Throughout the Year — In memory of Christ’s suffering and death, the Church prescribes making each Friday throughout the year a penitential day. All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday.”

Ash Wednesday, Good Friday

Canon 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Canon 1252: “All persons who have completed their 14th year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their 60th year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.”

Canon 1253: “It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics:

“Traditionally, the canonical obligation of fasting has been understood in the Church as the taking of only one full meal a day.”

What to Give Up?

Ideas for Adults


•    Fast with one full meal, no snacks one day a week.

•    Skip meat an extra day (or two) a week .

•    Give up alcoholic beverages.

•    Give up coffee (or reduce to one cup a day).

•    Give up all desserts.

•    Give up all unnecessary shopping.

•    Fast from music in the car.


•    Begin (or begin again) the daily Rosary.

•    Meditate for 10 minutes a day (daily meditations can be found at

•    Choose one extra devotion per week during Lent: Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration or a weekday Mass.

•    Read a book on the Life of Christ. For example:

     Alban Goodier’s The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ

     Fulton Sheen’s The Life of Christ

     Frank Sheed’s To Know Christ Jesus

     Romano Guardini’s The Lord

•    Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s 74-page section on prayer. (Section four; less than two pages a day!)


•    Visit a nursing home with your children.

•    Forgive someone and patch things up in a visit, or, if necessary, by phone or letter.

•    Give up gossip, judging or profanity.

•    Find one “act of forgiveness” to make every day: A driver who cuts you off, a co-worker who annoys you, a shopper who cuts in line, a store clerk who is rude or a family member who ignores your needs.

•    Say a kind word to everyone you meet.

•    Pay a significant compliment (or more!) to each of your children every day.

•    Offer to watch the children of a new mother one day a week throughout Lent.

•    Visit an elderly friend or relative.

•    Save up a significant amount of money for a deserving charity or apostolate.

For Children and Teens

If none of the adult ideas work for you, try:

•    Do chores without complaining

•    Draw pictures of Holy Week events.

•    Restrict your TV, Internet or music time.

•    Restrict your phone time.

•    Send a letter or picture to a grandmother, aunt or Godparent.

•    Make a new friend outside your “crowd.”

•    Be a friend to a shy person.

•    Give up that bad place, person or thing.

•    Choose a favorite toy, book or piece of clothing and put it away until Easter.

Stations of the Cross

Via Crucis

The Vatican’s Directory On Popular Piety And The Liturgy Principles And Guidelines No. 134: “The following may prove useful suggestions for a fruitful celebration of the Via Crucis:

The traditional form of the Via Crucis, with its 14 stations, is to be retained as the typical form of this pious exercise; from time to time, however, as the occasion warrants, one or other of the traditional stations might possibly be substituted with a reflection on some other aspects of the Gospel account of the journey to Calvary which are traditionally included in the Stations of the Cross;

The Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion as to leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the Resurrection in faith and hope; following the example of the Via Crucis in Jerusalem, which ends with a station at the Anastasis, the celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection.


Bearing in mind whatever instructions might have been established by the bishops in the matter, the choice of texts for the Via Crucis should take a count of the condition of those participating in its celebration and the wise pastoral principle of integrating renewal and continuity. It is always preferable to choose texts resonant with the Biblical narrative and written in a clear simple style.”


Online Lenten Resources:

National Catholic Register’s Guide to the Rosary, a 48 page pocket-sized full-color booklet featuring sacred art, Scripture readings and meditations. Call Vivian at (800) 356-9916, ext. 3809

National Catholic Register’s Passion Companion: Rosary Aid, Study Guide, Stations of the Cross, a 48 page pocket-sized full-color booklet featuring images from the movie. Call Vivian at (800) 356-9916, ext. 3809.

Faith & Family: The Magazine of Catholic Living. The Lent/Easter 2006 edition of the Register’s sister publication is available. or (800) 421-3230.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: abstinence; fast; lent

1 posted on 02/04/2008 9:43:02 AM PST by NYer
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To: NYer

I think I’ll follow my wife’s diet for Lent — she’s doing Sugar Busters which is really healthy food. Only bread she’s found that she can eat is Ezekial bread which uses ingredients from the Bible. And . . . maybe I’ll give up Freeping during the day!

2 posted on 02/04/2008 9:47:49 AM PST by Greg F (Romney appointed homosexual activists as judges in Massachusetts.)
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
 Why do we FAST?

 Why do we fast? Why is it important for us to fast? What can we learn from Biblical experience
 of fasting? What did Jesus say or do about fasting? How can we fast?

 I- Why do we fast?

  1- To be able to see: What? Am I blind? How can fasting help me to see?
     We are blinded by many things in this life. Therefore, we need to fast in order to see.
     We are blinded by disordinate desires (greed, envy, lust, gluttony,...), sins (sin makes us blind), bad
 habits (drinking, pornography, swearing, ...), riches (money, talents,...), and pleasures.
 Because of these things mentioned above, we cannot see things as they are. We cannot see the face
 of God or comprehend his mysteries. We cannot see the face of our neighbor and see his/her needs.

 2- We fast in order to be protected from enemies:
 “The message was brought to Jehoshaphat: "A great multitude is coming against you from across the
 sea, from Edom; they are already in Hazazon-tamar" (which is En-gedi). Jehoshaphat was frightened,
 and he hastened to consult the LORD. He proclaimed a fast for all Judah. Then Judah gathered to seek
 help from the LORD; from every one of the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. Jehoshaphat
 stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he
 said: "LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God in heaven, and do you not rule over all the
 kingdoms of the nations? In your hand is power and might, and no one can withstand you... We are
 powerless before this vast multitude that comes against us. We are at a loss what to do, hence our eyes
 are turned toward you." All Judah was standing before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and
 their young sons. And the spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son
 of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the clan of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly, and he said:
 "Listen, all of Judah, inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat! The LORD says to you: 'Do not
 fear or lose heart at the sight of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.” (2 Chronicles
 20:2-12, 15).

 3- We can ask others to fast on our behalf:
 After the people of God knew that they would be exterminated, they went into deep mourning, with
 fasting, weeping, and lament; they all slept on sackcloth and ashes. The queen Esther was asked to
 intercede with the king in behalf of her people. Esther said to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews
 who are in Susa; fast on my behalf, all of you, not eating or drinking, night or day, for three days. I and
 my maids will also fast in the same way. Thus prepared, I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If
 I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:3-16).
 We can fast on behalf of our father who has no job or our mother who is sick or we can fast for our
 brother who needs to take an important decision in life. “Please fast on my behalf.”

 4- We fast to avoid the anger of God after we commit a grave sin:
 “Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days
 more and Nineveh shall be destroyed," when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast
 and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose
 from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes. Then he had
 this proclaimed throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his nobles: "Neither man nor beast,
 neither cattle nor sheep, shall taste anything; they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water. Man and
 beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and
 from the violence he has in hand. Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing
 wrath, so that we shall not perish." When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
 he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.”

 5- We fast before we go for the mission:
 Jesus fasted 40 days before he began his mission. You can fast before you set peace between your
 cousins or neighbors. You can fast before you bring peace & love among people.

Today is the first day of Great Lent for Eastern Catholics. In the Maronite Churches around the world, during the Divine Liturgy, ashes are blended with holy water and painted on the forehead of the faithful.

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent in the Latin Church.

3 posted on 02/04/2008 9:49:25 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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4 posted on 02/04/2008 9:56:47 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer
“Fridays During Lent — In the United States, the tradition of abstaining from meat on each Friday during Lent is maintained.

Is that only in the US? I kinda thought it was a world-wide thing.

5 posted on 02/04/2008 10:16:12 AM PST by Gamecock (Aaron had what every mega-church pastor craves: a huge crowd that gave freely and lively worship.)
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To: NYer

When does Lent end... Holy Thursday or Easter Saturday?

6 posted on 02/04/2008 4:23:52 PM PST by Eternally-Optimistic (anything is possible)
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To: Eternally-Optimistic

I think it end on the day after Easter. Just counting the 40 days from Ash Wednesday.

7 posted on 02/04/2008 6:57:46 PM PST by fkabuckeyesrule (Is it baseball season yet?????)
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To: Gamecock
Is that only in the US? I kinda thought it was a world-wide thing.

Some bishops of third-world countries have pointed out that it was a strange sort of "penance" to impose on their people, who rarely had meat to eat anyway, and rarely had enough of anything else.

8 posted on 02/04/2008 7:55:13 PM PST by Campion
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To: fkabuckeyesrule

40 days from Ash Wednesday, not counting Sundays. That’s 6 weeks (6 days per week times 6 weeks = 36 days) plus 4 days, for Wednesday through Saturday of Holy Week.

9 posted on 02/04/2008 7:58:14 PM PST by Campion
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To: Eternally-Optimistic

Lent ends Wednesday, as the Triduum begins, which is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Easter begins with the Vigil at sundown.

10 posted on 02/04/2008 8:08:53 PM PST by baa39
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Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

11 posted on 02/05/2008 4:16:49 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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