Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting

The Church asks us to do works of prayer, almsgiving and fasting during Lent.

Prayer: anyone looking for extra devotions in Lent would do well to consider the Holy Hours at SS Gregory and Augustine, when Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is followed by Traditional Benediction. These take place every Thursday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm; every Saturday 10.00 - 11.00 am. Confession is available during Exposition on Saturdays, and 4.30-5pm on Thursdays.

Another possibility is Traditional Vespers and Benediction on Sundays at the Oxford Oratory: Vespers at 5.30pm, Benediction at 6pm.

Also recommended is the veneration of the relic of St Philip, at the Oxford Oratory, on Mondays after the 6pm Novus Ordo Mass (ie at about 6.40pm), and Stations of the Cross at the Oxford Oratory on Fridays at 5.30.

Almsgiving. Not all charities are worthy of our donations; here are some which support the Traditional Mass:

St Catherine's Trust:
runs an annual Traditional Catholic Summer School.

The Traditional Priests Support Trust
: supports priests who say the Traditional Mass exclusively, who have no regular income from a diocese or order.

The Good Counsel Network: a pro-life charity, which gives counseling and practical support for women with crisis pregnancies, and campaigns against abortion. The Good Counsel Network is spiritually supported by special celebrations of the Traditional Mass.

Fasting. The obligation to fast in Lent under the new Code of Canon Law is very limited; to make more of this traditional means of penance it is a good idea to look at the obligations under the older rules. These varied from country to country, but here is a summary from Fisheaters:

According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the rule for the universal Church during Lent is abstain on all Fridays (inside or outside of Lent) and to both fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Some traditional Catholics might follow the older pattern of fasting and abstinence during this time, which for the universal Church required:

  • Ash Wednesday, all Fridays, and all Saturdays: fasting and total abstinence. This means 3 meatless meals -- with the two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day -- and no snacking.
  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays (except Ash Wednesday), and Thursdays: fasting and partial abstinence from meat. This means three meals -- with the two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day -- and no snacking, but meat can be eaten at the principle meal.
On those days of fasting an abstinence, meatless soup is traditional (see recipes). Sundays, of course, are always free of fasting and abstinence; even in the heart of Lent, Sundays are about the glorious Resurrection. This pattern of fasting and abstinence ends after the Vigil Mass of Holy Saturday.

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