Articles & Readings of Interest

The Lenten Observance

A practical guide for those who take serious their obligations during the Holy Season of Lent
         Many of the faithful find the sacrifices and obligations of the Lenten Season confusing and burdensome; even those who remain faithful to Holy Tradition. This unfortunate and unnecessary attitude should be tackled by zealous Pastors everywhere, and the sublime Mysteries and bountiful graces fully explicated so that all the faithful can unite themselves intimately with the sufferings and supreme Sacrifice of Our Heavenly King. The forty days of Lent, intended to commemorate the forty days Our Blessed Lord spent fasting in the desert, begin on Ash Wednesday and last until Holy Saturday1 . The last two weeks of Lent are called, respectively, Passion Week and
Holy Week. During these two weeks the Church, in her liturgy especially, follows the end of Our Lord’s mortal life very closely.
         The faithful are expected to refrain from worldly amusements and distractions during this solemn season, and so for us modern Catholics it would not be unreasonable to refrain from television time and the watching of movies and other amusements such as “texting”, unnecessary telephone conversations, computer time (including e-mails and “on-line” time), video games, frivolous reading, excessive music listening, and needless shopping. Now these things are suggestions (strong suggestions), and not obligatory – but every Catholic who is serious about his faith and the salvation of his soul, should take to heart the seriousness of these recommendations.

Also important are the Ember Days of Lent. The Ember Days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) are cherished by the Western Church and are very ancient. Four times a year (Advent, Lent, Pentecost and month of September) the Church devotes these days to prayer and penance. The readings and Mass parts of the Ember days of Lent are especially focused on prayer, penance and sacrifice. On these days, even outside of Lent, the faithful are bound, under pain of mortal sin, to abstain from meat. 

          The current Laws of Fast and Abstinence (for the United States) are absolutely binding (unless lawfully excused or dispensed) for all the faithful. All baptized Catholics, seven years of age or older, are bound to abstain. The two types of abstinence are complete and partial. Complete abstinence forbids the eating of meat, and soup or gravy made with or from meat2, is required all Fridays throughout the year, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, the Vigil of All Saints, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, and the Vigil of Christmas. Partial Abstinence, which permits meat, and soup or gravy made from meat, to be eaten only at the main meal, is required on Ember Wednesday and Ember Saturday and the Vigil of Pentecost. The laws of Fasting are for all baptized Catholics, from ages 21 through 59, inclusive. The days of fast are the weekdays of Lent, the Ember days and the Vigils of Pentecost, allowed (with meat, except on Fridays) with two smaller meatless meals, which together do not equal one full meal. The eating of food or snacks between meals is forbidden; however the drinking of liquids, including milk and juice, are allowed.

For reasons of health one may seek the reduction or even dispensation from the fast from one’s Confessor. However, one should never simply dispense one’s self from these obligations; and should one be lawfully dispensed from these obligations, he should strive to find another type of approved penance that can be satisfactory to Almighty God.

Please remember that there is no obligation for fast or abstinence on Holy Days of Obligation, even when they fall on a Friday. The Church commands us to fast and to abstain in order that we focus our minds and bodies towards God, to make satisfaction for sin, and to control and mortify our flesh. As Saint Paul reminds us, I chastise my body and bring it into subjection lest perhaps after preaching to others I myself should be rejected (1 Corinthians 9:27)

When we meditate upon the sufferings of Our Lord, and offer that in union with our fast and abstinence, we offer true contrition for our past sins. And when we couple these penances and sacrifices with good and pious works, we are examples to many of the truth and goodness of Our Lord and King Jesus Christ.

We must also be on guard not to carry these penances to excess, which may cause injury to our body; to cause purposeful injury to our bodies is a sin against the commandments, and does not please God at all.

We hope that this brief explanation of the Lenten observance answers your questions, and will aid you in making your Lent a meaningful and holy exercise.


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1 This actually makes forty-six days, but since we do not fast or abstain on the six Sundays of Lent, they are not counted among the penitential days.
2 “Meat” means the flesh from all animals, except seafood. For further clarification one may inquire of one’s Pastor.

Sede Vacantism

The Theological Opinion that a Pope can fall into formal heresy and lose his office (the Papacy) commonly referred to as Sede Vacantism, has taken hold in the hearts and minds of many of today’s faithful Catholics in order to make sense of the contradictions and erroneous proclamations that come out of modernist Rome today, as well as those from all modernist clergy. Great Catholic minds such as S. Robert Bellarmine and Francisco Suárez, SJ  (to name just two) have written about its possibility. Those who hold that the current Popes are “not pope at all” due to formal heresy (called sede-vacantists) cannot in any way be considered schismatic and outside of the Church; quite the opposite, they are holding to logical principles that help explain the current crisis in the Church. This theological opinion remains that and does not affect one’s membership in the Church. Likewise, those who hold that the successors of Pope Pius XII are true and legitimate Popes, but have exceeded their authority and must be resisted in regards to the Faith, Holy Mass and the Sacraments, are likewise faithful Catholics and cannot be considered schismatic or outside of the Church.

The throwing of anathemas and excommunications by those who stand on either side of this theological debate are the only ones in error and in danger of grave sin. The faithful are exhorted to stop looking for a human solution to this spiritual problem. The only answer will come by prayer, penance and sacrifice.

 

For further reading on this subject contact the Catholic Research Institute and obtain a copy of

Can The Pope Go Bad? by Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier Da Silveira.