Traditional Lenten discipline and what has "changed"

I’ve recently came across quite a number of Catholic people actually surprised to the utmost by the idea of not going out dancing during Lent. It’s quite a shock. I’ve always been taught that dancing in Lent is forbidden unless it’s learning or teaching how to dance rather than partying. These days I’m being called a conservative or “orthodox” (negative implication) for not dancing during Lent. However, Commandment IV of the Church imposes fast and abstinence and forbids partying, as understood by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments. I do not believe in the whole new trend of reducing Lent to a period of reflection and some spiritual seeking, shooting down the penitential aspect to a symbolic meaning and reducing it to food only. Is anyone else troubled by this?

Fasting and abstinance can have more than one meaning. I mean, when I hear abstinance, the first thing I think of is sex, not meat as it means when we refer to abstaining on Fridays.

Lent IS a time of reflection and spiritual seeking. Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights alone in the desert reflecting and spiritual seeking. We reflect by chosing worldly things that effect us most and giving them up. There is no rule about what you have to give up (other than abstaining from meat on Fridays). You don’t HAVE to give up dancing for Lent. There is no rule about that. I haven’t gone out dancing for years, so that wouldn’t really be a sacrifice for me. On the other hand, how much time do I spend playing computer games? Now I use that time for other things, like prayer or spending more time with family and friends.

The idea of not celebrating during Lent is that it is the precursor to the death of Jesus. So by all means, this shouldn’t be the happiest time of the year. It is a solomn time. But that doesn’t mean we have to go around moping and laughing is forbidden. On the contrary, the Bible says to not let on that you’re fasting and making sacrifices. I know people who have birthdays during Lent and they still get to have parties and eat cake and ice cream (as long as they didn’t give that up for Lent!)

Plus, and don’t take this the wrong way, it isn’t our job to go around deciding if people are doing enough Lenten reflection and sacrifice. Yes, we all really should work hard at this, but there’s simply no forcing people to spend more time on their faith. And by worrying about what others are doing, you waste a lot of time worrying over something you can’t change. Instead of getting upset over it, pray for people you think need a better understanding of their faith.

Wow! Such good advice, you’d think I’d be taking it myself! :rolleyes: Still working on that whole perfection thing.


Fasting and abstinance can have more than one meaning. I mean, when I hear abstinance, the first thing I think of is sex, not meat as it means when we refer to abstaining on Fridays.

The traditional Lenten abstinence was from meat for all of Lent, not just Fridays, and the fast was for all of Lent as well, not just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as now.

And since this is a forum about traditional Catholicism consider for that for many centuries one of the mandated penances during Lent was abstinence from marital relations for the entire 40 days. For all of you married folk out there, just think about that! I consider myself a traditionalist…and also a total wimp when compared with these standards.

Right here where I live abstinence from alcohol throughout all of Lent is encouraged, although not required, dancing and loud partying are unthinkable for Lent (and the IV Commandment of the Church covers that anyway, the number may be different according to where one looks). Lent is penitential also, not just reflective. These days, I see the concept of mortification making people look at you like a weirdo and say it’s mediaeval while all the new trends that gain ground are not exactly proper. It’s not that long since all of Lent being a fast day and it’s not like this country has been the most conservative of all. There has always and everywhere been some difference between the Lent and the Carnival. “Go and put ash on your head if you like,” is something I’ve heard from a “Catholic” today. I advised him to petition the Holy See for removal of Ash Wednesday then, upon which I heard it was created by men. :rolleyes: Generally, in Europe, no dancing, no singing, no weddings or flowers in churches or alleluias, traditionally and not as giving up but as a penitential season thing. These days, it looks like they’re going right in the direction of only keeping the triduum or something like that. I just don’t get the kind of modern “discipline” that you can go to a dancing party on Good Friday if you like, on condition that you just don’t eat meat and that only if you aren’t pressured by the host. :rolleyes: I’m not sure I even want to know where this is all going.

What I see is removing genuflections, cutting down on days of obligation, days of fast or abstinence, loosening the discipline of penitential periods (forbidden times), shortening the Mass, pushing more and more things in the direction of individual conscience. It’s sad.

My parish has no weddings during Lent. I don’t know of any parishes that have alleluias during Lent. At my father’s funeral last week at my parents’ parish, although the funeral Mass guide listed several “allelulia” selections (I picked out the one I liked best, hoping actually that they would sing the verse without allelulia since it is Lent). They followed the correct rubrics and sang glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ instead.

Yes, that’s how it’s done here as well. I suppose they do that everywhere, but sometimes it feels like the alleluia is absent, vestments are purple, but there’s no other indication of Lent going on. With that approach, no wonder it ends up contemplative and reflective (if, if) rather than penitential. I miss the traditional Lent of penitence and mourning rather than Advent Plus or Lent Lite where everything goes except meat on Friday or five meals on Ash Wednesday. I neither understand nor like the trend of change to eliminate penitence, limit gestures of respect, permit more and more of what was not permissible before. I’ve even heard of priests saying one shouldn’t give up but simply give, and that if one normally didn’t eat enough, one should actually make sure one ate enough in Lent, almost do the point of, “do something for yourself, do what you like,” etc. It’s true we don’t add to God’s glory and divine worship is for our salvation, not for God’s benefit, but I just don’t like the notion to keep relaxing and focus on oneself.

It wasn’t too long ago that restaurants and movie theaters in New Orleans and across south Louisiana closed on Good Friday. That stopped around the early 70s.

My cathedral parish limits the use of the organ during Lent and choir and congregation mostly sing acapella. I don’t dance (never have) so I can’t comment on that although there are certainly clubs open.

Because eating seafood is no burden upon us - indeed the rivers, lakes, bayous, and Gulf abound with seafood this time of year - we are encouraged to “do” rather than “give up”. It’s always been this way here even back when abstinence from meat on all Fridays was the norm.

“Do” means actually performing something - a la the corporal works of mercy. Maybe not penitental, per se, but it is a turning away from sin and toward God. I have a suspicion that a lot of folks “do” - it’s just not public. But Chevalier is right - I have to say that before Vatican II Lent was far more austere.

I guess I’m not too surprised at the question, and the dismany of the poster, however I have this question to ask.

In the days of old; dancing, and celebration in general, was reserved for joyous times and feasting.

Early Christians never had ghetto booty clubs and dance clubs to go out to and get all liquored up.

Since the EO church’s striclty forbid the sacraments of marriage and baptism during Lent ( barring extreme exceptions ), there really would never have been an appropriate time for the dancing and partying to ever have occured.

So my question to you is this: Does the RCC allow for these sacraments to be performed during Lent?

This will probably go to the heart of the question.

Baptism is allowed during Lent. Marriage is not.

I don’t presume this to be an easy thing to know or to look up, however do you know when the Latin church allowed the practice to start occuring during Lent??

I don’t know when the practice started, but I do have a link from Ask an Apologist that states that it should be allowed.

I guess this still doesn’t answer my question.
I would really like to do a little more digging and see when it became accepted to perform the baptism during Lent.

Lent is but a few short weeks.
If a child is in danger, then everyone knows that an emergency baptism can be performed.

It makes little sense to me that the RCC allows this sacrament during this time frame.

Sorry I cannot help more. I can add though, that there is a parish close to mine that does not baptise during Lent. The priests there are from an order, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. I don’t know if that makes any difference, though.

My parish does not perform baptisms during Mass. Baptisms take place after the last Mass on Sunday twice a month throughout the whole year. Most of the congregation leaves after the Mass, so the only people still present for the baptisms are the families and friends of the babies being baptised; therefore, baptism is quiet and low-key year round.

Cathedral parish…no baptisms or marriages durning Lent.

I’ve seen a baptism today, but it was after mass, whereas outside of Lent, it’s during mass. Marriages cannot be solemnised (no nuptial mass), not sure if at all contracted but perhaps yes. Feast of St. Joseph is an exception from the Lenten discipline of marriage.

Dancing I mentioned because it’s festive and Lent is penitential. I will be shot ten times in the head before I go to a disco in Lent, but I see more and more Catholics having no problem with it. :frowning: The Polish text of Commandments of the Church forbids loud/festive celebrations (the word used is close to pomp, but it’s somewhat different still) and interpretations state that dancing is forbidden by that commandment. According to my knowledge, it was like that everywhere until some time ago, except the older English versions of the Commandments of the Church don’t seem to have anything about parties (Commandments of the Church are regulated by the Conference of bishops, so sometimes there isn’t even the same number - e.g. six in the USA for all I know and five in Poland). The priest (PhD from Rome) whom I asked yesterday was seriously surprised and said it was obvious that it simply didn’t go and that no, there hadn’t been any change in the discipline. Still, various oh-so-involved Catholics online say that yeah, one can. Penitence…

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