Different Fasting & Holy Days


It is my understanding that most of the sui iuris particular churches have different fasting and holy day of obligation requirements from each other. How then can a Catholic of any rite be obligated to attend mass on a holy day of obligation or to fast on a given day under threat of mortal sin (I am aware that Easterners don’t like the terminology of mortal and venial sins, but as an RC, it is the terminology I am familiar with so I will stick with it)? How can a Roman Catholic not observe the Byzantine Catholic fasting requirements and holy days of obligation and remain in a state of grace but if a Byzantine doesn’t observe his fasting requirements and holy days he will be commiting a sin? I know that you are going to say that each of the particular Churches is self-governing and comes up with their own requirements, but if we are all in unity how can something be a sin in one rite but not in another? Will God really tell a Maronite Catholic he’s going to hell for observing Roman Feast days instead of Maronite ones and then tell the faithful Roman Catholic who also observed the Roman feast days that he is going to heaven? This doesn’t make any sense to me. I ask this not to question the authority of the Church, but because I am genuinely having a hard time understanding this.


Your typical Catholic isn’t missing his Roman feast days so he can celebrate Maronite ones instead. He’s missing the feast days period because he’s lazy.


How can something be a crime in one state but not another?


That’s comepletely different. I don’t understand how God is bound by man-made rules such as these. Why doesn’t the Church just have one universal requirement? I guess my question is more of how something can be considered a sin in one rite and not another. How can someone do something in one rite and be fine but if he does it in another it is suddenly an offense against God?


What’s the difference?

God commands obedience to lawful authority. That different authorities have different rules isn’t a problem.


The sin isn’t simply that you missed going to mass on a obligatory day. The sin is one of disobedience, in this case to your bishop who has charge of maintaining and strengthening the people he is taking care of. Your bishop has said “this day is a day of obligation” so you go. If you don’t go, without cause, you are disobeying someone with proper authority over you, authority which the Lord has given to them.

Having it put that way, can you not see how the sin is the same no matter which rite you are a part of?


I understand that, but I just don’t get how it is possible for one bishop to say something is a sin and for another bishop to say that it isn’t. I want to be completely clear that I don’t doubt Church authority, I just want to understand it more. I truly believe that the Bishops have the authority to create conflicting days of fasting and obligation, I just want to know why and how.


Christ established one Church however that does not mean the Church can’t be diverse. The history of why the Latin rite is by far the largest comes down to two historical events. First. The East West schism. Had the schism not happened, eastern Catholicism wouldn’t be a foreign thing to most of us as the Orthodox in all of their diversity would be in communion with the Church. We tend to think of it wrong. Yes the Pope is infallible and was always the “first among equals” however he is and only ever was the “Patriarche” of the Latin Church. We often don’t think of patriarchs in western Christianity but they never ceased and prior to the schism had much more authority, really were heads over their region. In eastern Catholicism this is the same old rule as some have come back to being in schism. Hence why many eastern churches share more in their liturgy with the Orthodox than western Catholics. There never was anything wrong with this. It always was the Latin west and Greek east. It all comes down the papal authority which both sides just can’t come to terms with, that and also Orthodox have a separate identity now and many grew up hearing bad things about the Church in Rome.
Second, colonization. Had it not been for colonization, the west and east would have nearly the same amount of adherents. The vast majority of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were of the western Catholic tradition. Of course there were eastern rites but not anywhere near the same amount.
Really all the Church asks is loyalty to the Pope and realizing he is the successor of Peter. ( Ironically the Orthodox Church of Antioch makes the same claim about their Patriarche. And with historical reason.)
As far as what’s binding it depends on which patriarchy you fall under. In the west it is Rome. However as long as you follow the beliefs and accept the pope, the Church really is quite liberal in how the eastern rites who are just as old celebrate liturgy etc. They have like I said much more in common with the Orthodox yet are in communion whereas the Orthodox are not. Actually the Church doesn’t even have a problem that the east accepts some books scripture the west does not such as 3 Maccabees. The Church respects cultures. All they need to really accept is papal authority and infallibility, and also doctrine and dogma.


Like I said, the bishop has the responsibility for the people in his charge. If a particular feast day or patron saint has more meaning or impact for the part of the world he is in, then he could possibly make it a holy day of obligation because it would be beneficial to the community as a whole to gather and offer a mass on that day. If there is a particular devotion or custom that is part of the cultural makeup of the area, then a holy day honoring that would be beneficial spiritually to have people gather as a community.

Another bishop might make the same days obligatory for a part of the world where the saint or devotion has less connection or might not even be known and the day, while beneficial because everyone would go to mass, doesn’t have the same spiritual nourishment as the other because the community in the first examples has more history/culture/etc. to anchor that day into their daily lives.

The same goes for fasting. If a particular day or period of time is meaningful to the area or the Church at large, then the bishops can put fasting days to strengthen the faithful who would be able to connect to that time period in some spiritual way. Individuals can fast and it is meaningful to them, but having the Church working as a whole strengthens the community that it is done in.

The how is because they have the power to bind and lose things on us. The why can very depending on what the particular bishop is trying to encourage, foster, and honor in his particular community.

If I came off as if I thought you doubted Church authority, then I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to seem that way. I was just attempting to put down the explanation but apparently failed smooth out its delivery with more amiable language. (I know I’ve been watching too many period dramas and reading period books when I pull out words like “amiable” :rofl: )


Bishops may sometimes grant dispensations or exceptions for things like holy day Mass attendance or fasting, if permitted to do so by the Vatican, in order to better meet the needs of the Bishop’s particular diocese.

For example, if the Bishop is dealing with a severe priest shortage or with people having to travel a long distance to church, as might happen in some rural dioceses, then he may move holy days of obligation to the Sunday, if permitted by the Pope, so that priests and people aren’t burdened by needing to attend an extra Mass. If on the other hand his diocese has a lot of priests and a church every mile, there’s less worry about people not being able to get to Mass, so he may keep the holy day on the weekday.

It’s the same way states and municipalities make different laws that suit the needs of the people in their area. A city has really different needs from some country town. You might need a speed limit of 35 mph in a city with people crossing streets, but it’s okay to have a speed limit of 50 mph in the country where people aren’t out walking around. It’s simply common sense.


Okay, one more question. My Latin priest has told me that if we forget to confess something during confession we are still absolved. He also told me that we only need to confess mortal sins in confession and that venison sins can be forgiven directly by God through prayer. However, I was looking at the website for a local Byzantine parish (Saint Sophia in The Colony, Texas), and it has a guide for a good confession. On it it says that we must confess all sins whether mortal or venial, and that we are not absolved of sins we forget to confess. Is this a problem of East Vs. West or Parish Vs. Parish? And according to Catholic doctrine, which is the correct way to confess?


You confess in the way the Catholic church of which you are a member teaches you to confess.


That makes no sense. Either all your sins are absolved or they are not. I hate this attitude of “do what your priest says”. I want to know what the INFALLIBLE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST teaches officially, not what a priest, a fallible man, says on his own.


The priest doesn’t make up the rules. The Latin Rite has a different form of confession from Eastern Rite churches. You are expected to confess according to the rules for the rite of the church of which you are a member.


Thank you for your answer, but please bear with me if I ask one more question. How can one rite say that confession is only valid if you confess all of your sins, while another rite says that confession is valid even if you confess only mortal sins? By nature there can only be one truth, so how can they both be right when they are both saying the other is wrong?


Not to add to your issues, but according to this EWTN apologist, there is variation even between Byzantine churches and what you read does not appear to fit with the apologist’s description of Byzantine theology.



Can you quote what you read from St. Sophia’s website?

We absolutely believe that absolution forgives all sins, even those forgotten.



Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.
§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.


Canon 720 - §1. Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the ordinary way by which the Christian faithful who is aware of a serious sin is reconciled with God and the Church; only physical or moral impossibility excuses one from confession of this type, in which case reconciliation can take place in other ways.

Since the requirements for a good confession are of divine law, there is no difference between the different Churches. One is obliged to confess all mortal sins that have not previously been confessed. Impossibility (e.g. on account of having forgotten) excuses from this obligation, but the obligation arises again if the sin is remembered.

Not everything on a parish website is accurate unfortunately.


Here’s a link to their whole page on Confession, just to make sure that I don’t accidentally take anything out of context: http://www.stsophiaukrainian.cc/resources/aproperconfession/


If you forget a sin in all honesty and realize afterward, the sin is forgiven still yet you still should confess it next time you go.
If you intentionally withhold a sin it is somewhat lying to God which is a mockery in itself thus is probably a sin in itself.
Venial sin isn’t required to be confessed because good works and attending mass can forgive them especially during the confetior, however it isn’t bad to say them in confession. They tend to be the easiest to confess anyways.
Confession isn’t meant to be this horrific thing we dread. In fact I think many Catholics have it wrong. The point of confession is to acknowledge your sins to God and receive healing and forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church. I always leave feeling rejuvenated and renewed and able to put my past behind me and look to bettering myself.

That’s how it should be for all people.

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