Chewing gum on Ash Wednesday?

I have a family member who is slowly coming back to the Church, and I can already see that it will be a challenge for him to abide by the Ash Wednesday fast.

To some, like myself, it doesn’t seem hard at all, when we’ve trained ourselves to submit the urges of our sense appetites to the control our will. But for a person who has what appears to be an addiction to snaking and sweets (to the point of making special trips just to buy these sweets, even if a general grocery shopping trip is going to take place the very next day, nope it “can’t wait”), it will be hard. Furthermore, we’re talking about someone who hasn’t fully processed the authority of the Church. “You will commit mortal sin” might not work, and given his lack of proper faith formaiton, may do more harm than good.

I might add he had bariatric surgery a little over a year ago, so we are talking about a family member who objectively had weight issues and had to address eating problems (namely portion sizes).

I think he intends to chew gum tomorrow, (he chews gum anyways, another one of his addictions I would add, based on how quickly he would go through a box containing 10 packs of gum 15 sticks per pack) when I would buy them at Sam’s Club.

My understanding is that chewing gum does not break the Eucharistic fast (though it goes contrary to the spirit of it). But what about Lenten fast?

Has your family member asked for your opinion or advice on this matter?

If he hasn’t asked, then you don’t need to worry about what to say. Rejoice that he is slowly making his way back to the Church and recognize that conversion is a slow process. We do our best.

Pray for him. Perhaps you could offer your fast for his intentions.

I don’t think not fasting is a mortal sin is it?

There are 2 days a year - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday - when fasting is obligatory. Knowing this and to deliberately not fast on these days is a sin of grave matter.

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It is? I mean, I fast, but I don’t remember seeing that in the Bible. I better start reading more… Its ironic, I saw my priest out to eat with another priest tonight and I was asking them the fasting rules for tomorrow. I guess just no meat on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, no eating from sunrise to sunset on both of those days, and no meat on Friday in general. Its a small sacrifice, but for God, I want to give more. So far I decided to give up Sprite (I know its childish to give up soda, but I drink it with every meal).

Really?

Canon law:

CHAPTER II : DAYS OF PENANCE

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.

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION
PAENITEMINI
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
PAUL VI
ON FAST AND ABSTINENCE

Extract from the above document (full document can be found at this Vatican link: vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19660217_paenitemini_en.html )

II. 1. The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely.

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I’m not sure fasting is considered “grave matter”. Here is how the Catechism defines “grave matter”.

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. the promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
It would be best to ask a priest, explaining the eating habit the person suffers from.

I’ll repeat part of my post.

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION
PAENITEMINI
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
PAUL VI
ON FAST AND ABSTINENCE

Extract from the above document (full document can be found at this Vatican link: vatican.va/holy_father/pa…temini_en.html )

II. 1. The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely.

Binds gravely means you commit a sin of grave matter if you deliberately do not fulfill the obligation (obviously assuming no medical reasons or other incapacity which might reduce culpability).

Point taken. Thank you for calling me on it.

However, because of an eating disorder (which the OP’s friend seems to have), I still say it would be best to speak to a priest. It could be he would be allowed a different/substitute penance.
Also from Paul VI’s APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION PAENITEMINI which you quoted above:
VII. While the faculties of individual bishops of dispensing, according to the decree Christus Dominus, number 8b, remain unchanged, pastors also for just cause and in accordance with the prescriptions of the Ordinary may grant to individual faithful as well as individual families dispensation or commutation of abstinence and fast into other pious practices. The superior of a religious house or clerical institute enjoys the same faculties for his subjects.
vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19660217_paenitemini_en.html

“Fasting” doesn’t mean you can’t have anything to eat. Here is how the regulation from the U.S. Catholic Bishops reads:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year.** Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal.** Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year
usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/lent/catholic-information-on-lenten-fast-and-abstinence.cfm

Its a small sacrifice, but for God, I want to give more. So far I decided to give up Sprite (I know its childish to give up soda, but I drink it with every meal).

I wouldn’t consider it childish at all. For quite a few years my husband gave up alcoholic beverages during Lent.

What about this?

Those who are sick, or have a medical condition are excused from fasting, such as, diabetics, or pregnant and nursing women who need protein and/or these nutrients for their babies. For those who fall into these conditions can substitute some other form of penance for abstinence or fasting. This can be charity work, prayer, or almsgiving. Contact your local church as to other ways you can do penance versus fasting. As stated by AmericanCatholic.org, “Failure to observe individual days of penance is not considered serious. Moral theologians remind us that some people are excused from fasting and/or abstinence because of sickness or other reasons”.

Does that mean it is NOT a mortal sin not to fast? I’m a bit confused here.

Still, I do find it troublesome that the Church has made something like this a matter of mortal sin. I get that we need to fast and do Penance, but the idea of someone going to hell because they couldn’t resist a Twinkie on Ash Wednesday is kind of hard core.

I didn’t know that. I ate dinner after sunset. All I was told was 2 small meals that didn’t equal my one big meal. ( I don’t eat every much and my priest just told me not to snack.) Do I need to confess that I ate after sunset? This is my first Ash Wednesday participating and I thought I was doing so well. Booooo! :frowning:

The time at which you eat your meals is not at all regulated. You can eat whenever you like,

:extrahappy: Thanks!

If you go back and read Post #4, where thistle said it would be a sin of grave matter, you’ll see he gives a couple of necessary conditions for it to be a grave sin – “Knowing this and to deliberately not fast …”. He is not speaking of wanting or trying to fast and then failing out of weakness – he’s speaking of deliberately refusing to even try (at least I think he is). And, I presume he means in a normal, healthy person where there are no medical or psychological issues involved.

Still, I do find it troublesome that the Church has made something like this a matter of mortal sin. I get that we need to fast and do Penance, but the idea of someone going to hell because they couldn’t resist a Twinkie on Ash Wednesday is kind of hard core.

You can have a Twinkie - just have it with one of your meals. :slight_smile:

I went to the site’s article on Lenten fasting and found it confusing, Here are the 2 paragraphs:
Each year in publishing the Lenten penance requirements, the U.S. bishops quote the teaching of the Holy Father concerning the seriousness of observing these days of penance. The obligation to do penance is a serious one; the obligation to observe, as a whole or “substantially,” the days of penance is also serious.

But no one should be scrupulous in this regard; failure to observe individual days of penance is not considered serious. Moral theologians remind us that some people are excused from fasting and/or abstinence because of sickness or other reasons.

(americancatholic.org/features/lent/lentrules.aspx )After just quoting how the bishops say it is serious, he says it’s “not considered serious”. :confused: Since his next sentence gives legitimate reasons for being excused, maybe he means that failure to fast on penance days is not in and of itself an intrinsically sinful action - that is, sinful irregardless of any circumstances whatsoever.

Don;t worry about it. Keep encouraging him to return to the Church. As he continues his journey, he will become more attuned to things. Don’t kick up a fuss.

I thought this was a very confusing passage as well!

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