Holy Days, Fasting, and Romans 14


Pax vobiscum!

I’ve been engaged in an email correspondence with a non-denominational coworker of mine, and have been making fair progress. He’s an intelligent, prayerful seeker for God and Truth, and that counts for a lot. In our recent discussion on Authority, he summed up his feelings by quoting a particular anti-Catholic site which has some reasoned (and some ridiculous) arguments against the Catholic faith. (I won’t mention it here, as it has come up before, and it’s not relevant to the discussion, which I’d like to be as concise as possible.)

One part I’m having trouble addressing is his quoting of Romans 14, especially 1-6, as an example of Catholic authority contradicting the Bible.

“NOW him that is weak in faith, take unto you: not in disputes about thoughts.
For one believeth that he may eat all things: but he that is weak, let him eat herbs.
Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not: and he that eateth not, let him not judge him that eateth. For God hath taken him to him.
Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own lord he standeth or falleth. And he shall stand: for God is able to make him stand.
For one judgeth between day and day: and another judgeth every day: let every man abound in his own sense.
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord. And he that eateth, eateth to the Lord: for he giveth thanks to God. And he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth thanks to God.” (From the DR)

On the one hand, this certainly says that no one should condemn a Catholic for CHOOSING to celebrate a day or abstain from meat, but it certainly seems to deny the ability of the Church to dictate that someone MUST abstain on a certain day or MUST attend Mass on a certain day.

So how do I answer this? Any examples from the Bible? ECF? Logic? Something that indicates that the Catholic Church is NOT in this case contradicting the Bible. I generally like to do my own research, but I’ve been looking around for the better part of the evening without finding anything I would call definitive.

Thank you for your input!


As for our Sunday Obligation, these passages do not relate.

The Sunday Obligation is detailed in the Ten Commandments, to keep the Sabbath Holy - in the New Covenant that is Sunday.

These verses accurately describe fasting and diet; the Church does consider it a venial sin (doesn’t she? it’s not a mortal sin, is it?) to disobey and not fast on the days she has prescribed as days of fasting, however those sins are, realistically between the person and The Lord, and aren’t necessarily required to be Reconciled through the sacrament.

Tell your friend that breaking regulations such as no meat of Fridays isn’t grounds for any punishment, only your own guilt for disobeying the Church herself, which really is punishment enough for a devout Catholic!

All of this is on the condition that eating meat on Fridays is a venial, not mortal sin


Matt. 6:16-18
In this verse, Jesus gives his disciples instructions not to look dismal when they fast.

Acts 13:2-3; 14:23 - the apostles engaged in prayer and fasting


One must obey the six(?) major precepts of the Church on pain of mortal sin - one of those being to fast and abstain on the days appointed. This is based upon the power given to the Apostles and their successors in our day to bind and loose in such matters. In other words the mortal sin is one of disobedience to the Church.


Yes as someone correctly pointed out Mt 6:16-18 (a chapter that also contains the Lords prayer or the our Father verses 9-13). In Mt 6:16-18 Jesus doesn’t say If you fast. Jesus says “when you fast do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…” So the reality of fasting isn’t a “challenge” by our Lord Jesus but a command of “when.” Therefore logically it would seem that since Jesus said when He meant that we must fast at sometime. Ask your friend when does he fast since Jesus commands us to fast?

Holy days are a bit different. Sunday is a holy day (of obligation of course) as are other holy days. Remember Jesus didn’t wipe away all of the OT but fulfilled it so that the Sabbath once a day of legalisms is now applied to Sunday (the Lords day Rev 1:10) the resurection day. Jesus also established an authoritative church Mt 16:15-19, 18:15-18, 1 Tim 3:15. And it is this church that has the authority given to it by Jesus (Luke 10:16) to proclaim days that are obligatory for us to attend (barring any serious reason). Holidays comes from the word Holi days where the Catholic church took pagan days and Christianized them like all Saints day. Christmas is a celebration of the Nativity based on Luke 2 with the incarnation of our Savior and Lord Jesus.


Eating meat and drinking wine are not intrinsically evil and one day is not intrinsically better than another day.

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ gave his apostles the authority to bind and loose, which includes the authority to issue decrees concerning the good order and discipline of the Church entrusted to their oversight, such as establishing obligatory Christian feast-days and days of fasting and abstinence. This authority to bind and loose continues today in the bishops of the Catholic Church by virtue of their apostolic succession. Scripture says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)


To understand Romans 14, you’ve got to understand the setting. There were former Jews who still observed the Jewish festivals. There were Gentiles who could care less about Yom Kippur or what-not. That’s who this is addressed to.

To the Jews, don’t condemn the Gentiles for ignoring the Festival of Lights.

To the Gentiles, don’t condemn the Jews for still observing the Festival of Lights.

The same goes with the dietary habits. The Jews shouldn’t condemn those pork-lovin’ Gentiles and vice-versa.


Hi All
My Wifes family are all Catholic and they usally go to mass on saturday night. My question, if a Catholic doesn’t go to church on Sunday, is that a sin?


That’s the vigil Mass and fulfills the Sunday obligation.


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