Not abstaining on Sundays in Lent

I was told that we are not bound to abstain during Sundays in Lent. Can someone give me the reasoning for this (please include references)?

I do understand that Sundays are not counted as a part of Lent. But I also understand that at one time Catholics still held their abstinence even on Sundays in Lent. When did this change and what brought it about?

Can you cite Church Docs? Cathechism? etc? THANKSI!

Abstain may not be the word you want. We abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent, but we’re not required to abstain from anything else. There’s the little one hour fast prior to receiving Communion, but I don’t think that’s what you mean either.

Sundays are like little Easters, every one being a feast. So maybe what you’re thinking of is that on Sundays you don’t have to give up the thing you may have given up for Lent. You can have a soda or some chocolate on Sundays. It used to seem like cheating to me too, but I understand it better now. I do something positive for Lent instead of give up anything, so it isn’t really any kind of issue for me. The only thing I can site is personal experience. I was in grade school in the 1950s and 60s and I’m pretty sure it was this way then.

Maybe in the morning when regular people (as opposed to us nightowls) are up and about, someone can give you a more satisfying answer.

Sundays are not days of fast/abstinence.

Individuals are free to maintain their Lenten disciplines of fast/abstinence on Sundays of Lent, as personal choices, but it’s not required by the Church.

Sundays are part of Lent (that’s why we have the first Sunday of Lent, second Sunday of Lent, etc.).

See canon 1251 for why fasting/abstinence are not required on Solemnities.

Not only are Sundays not days of abstinence and fasting.
I just found late this Friday evening that the Feast of St. Joseph is also to be celebrated without fasting or abstinence. (It’s too late for that meatloaf now!)

See:
catholicism.about.com/b/2010/03/18/reader-question-saint-josephs-day-and-abstinence.htm?nl=1

God Bless, Reg

I was told what everyone else has said by our priest. I searched ‘fasting’ in the CCC - no luck there, either way, but, it is late and I am tired! We also have a gentleman in our church who is from the Byzantine Rite. He has said they observe the fast even on Sundays during Lent.

We abstain from meat and dairy, as well as “fast” in the sense of limited amounts of those foods for all of Great Lent. The last meat we ate was on Meatfare Sunday, Feb 7, and the last dairy was on Cheesefare Sunday, Feb 14. We Russian Catholics will break the abstinence for a day with fish on the Annunciation next week, and caviar on Lazarus Saturday, and fish on the Entrance into Jerusalem/Palm Sunday. We abstain from meat and dairy Wed and Friday all year and for 40 days before the Nativity of our Lord, and with some other times, it comes to a total of 196 days of the year we abstain. :slight_smile:

The Feast of St Joseph is also a holy day of obligation in the universal Church, but sadly not observed as such in the US…

Can. 1246 §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

No, Sundays was never a fasting day even in the past. Partially for this reason we have the “extra” days from Ash Wednesday to the First Sunday of Lent (to make the number 40). If you look in the former 1917 Code of Canon Law and even before, in the Corpus Juris Canonicis, it explicitly exempts Sundays from fasting;.

There are no “church documents” to reference because the practice of “giving up” something for Lent has always been a personal devotion and hence was never regulated by the Church.

I think it unfortunate that the Annunciation, in particular, is not a day of obligation in the US, but we probably ought to post the whole of 1246, lest we give the impression that our bishops aren’t following that canon (boldface mine):

Can. 1246 §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.
§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

If you go to the USCCB web site, you will find this (boldface mine):

National Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States of America
Decree of Promulgation

On December 13, 1991 the members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America made the following general decree concerning holy days of obligation for Latin rite Catholics:

In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows:
January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God;
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension;
August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
November 1, the solemnity of All Saints;
December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;
December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

**This decree of the Conference of Bishops was approved and confirmed by the Apostolic See by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops (Prot. N. 296/84), signed by Bernardin Cardinal Gantin, prefect of the Congregation, and dated July 4, 1992. **

As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby declare that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin rite dioceses of the United States of America will be January 1, 1993, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, November 17, 1992.

  • Daniel E. Pilarczyk
    Archbishop of Cincinnati
    President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops

Robert N. Lynch
General Secretary

Secretariat for Divine Worship | 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017-1194 | (202) 541-3060 © USCCB. All rights reserved.

As has been stated we are not required to continue our Lenten sacrifice or devotion on Sundays of Lent but nothing stops someone from doing it if they like. I have done it both ways and find that it is easier for me to continue the same way until Easter if I give something up for Lent. In recent years my devotion has taken on more of a positive focus in doing different things and additional things rather than on giving up something.

Then it’s obviously not a universal holy day of obligation. The Canon you cite simply notes that in addition to Sunday the following feasts “must be observed.” The manner of observation, e.g. whether or not it’s a day of obligation, is open to Church decision. Canon 1246 by itself does not fully prescribe holy days of obligation.

The “feast” of St. Joseph is a Solemnity in the universal calendar. That is how Canon law is adhered to in this case. Just because it’s not a holy day of obligation in certain places is not the issue. It’s still a Solemnity, the highest “rank” of liturgical celebration.

The feast of St. Patrick is a holy day of obligation in Ireland. It’s a feast (not a solemnity) in the U.S. and clearly not a holy day of obligation. Canon 1246 doesn’t say anything about that.

How many of these threads are we going to have? Yikes! :eek:

The reason you’ll never find any documents is that you set your own rules for your Lenten penance. As far as I’m aware, the laid-down law that we all have to follow is: approach the season in a penitential spirit, fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstain from meat on all the Fridays that aren’t solemnities. The penitential spirit is set up in your own way. So, for example, I gave up soda as one of the things I’m doing for Lent. But I decided beforehand that I’d let myself have a glass of root beer on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s within the rules, because you’re the one setting up the fast. What you’re bound to follow, I think, is the three things I said before: penitential spirit, no meat on Fridays, fast at the beginning and on Good Friday.

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