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Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Church Is Far More Fun Than I Had Thought

So I was trying to figure out when Lent is over. My wife looked it up and said, "March 30."

"Wait a second! That's way more than 40 days. There is some trickery afoot!"

She researched further. "Ah, I see: Sundays are not part of Lent. In fact, Christians are not allowed to fast or do other penitence on Sundays."

I sat stupefied for a moment. "Wait... you mean if I gave up alcohol for Lent, I am actually not allowed to not drink on Sundays?"

"Well, I don't think they mean..."

"No, that pretty clearly is the meaning of that regulation. Well, sorry, dear, I've got religious obligations to fulfill. Back before midnight."

8 comments:

  1. Ha, Gene finds a loophole.

    You might want to inform your boss that all Mondays will be a late start for the next month or so.

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    1. Ya think I'm soft, hey?

      I was on the road at 6:30 this morning and in my office 1 hour before class.

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    2. No I don't think that you're soft, I was mostly projecting my own experiences onto you.

      I cannot drink any day of the workweek, because if I do decide to drink then I know that I am going to get good and drunk. If I were to drink on Sundays, then there's a good chance that I won't be at work on Monday or I'll be late (the latter is almost guaranteed).

      I have noticed that you do have some strange awake-hours, though. But I only notice this because I also have a strange internal clock; sometimes when I post a comment to your blog at 3 in the morning, it magically gets approved.

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  2. Technically the website your wife found is incorrect. Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and the Triduum, Sundays included. Hence, yesterday was the First Sunday of Lent.

    Is the period between Ash Wednesday and the Triduum exactly 40 days? No, it's not. It's about 40 days, which is close enough for Italians.

    The source of the confusion, I think, is this. Catholics typically give up something for Lent (e.g. alcohol). This isn't required, but is an encouraged practice. Since it's not a requirement, people are allowed to set the parameters, and many people will allow themselves to have the given up item on Sundays.

    On the other hand, since wine is a part of every Catholic mass....

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    1. I don't think you're correct, Blackadder: Wikipedia has the exact same info as my wife found: "In most Western traditions the Sundays are not counted as part of Lent; thus the period from Ash Wednesday until Easter consists of 40 days when the Sundays are excluded." And they've sourced this from the United Method Church web site.

      My church had "the first Sunday IN Lent" -- like the Hawaiian Islands are IN the Pacific Ocean, but aren't actually ocean themselves.

      By the way, we were progressing nicely with our Socratic dialogue about experience when you dropped out of my experience.

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    2. Gene,

      My source is the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar (see 28 & 30).

      I confess the dialogue on existence had slipped my mind (I'll spare you the obvious jokes). I would be happy to continue with it, if you'd like.

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  3. There was once a difference between fasting and abstinence, which is no longer observed. Fasting meant the total refusal of all food until after the ninth hour, or in some cases Vespers. Abstinence meant the refusal of specific kinds of food (meat, dairy, and eggs). A fast day proper was of necessity an abstinence day, but, an abstinence day was not necessarily a fast day. No fasting is allowed on Sundays because it is the day of the Resurrection; traditionally, in many areas, no fasting was allowed on Saturdays either. However, Saturday and Sunday, did fall under the restriction of meat, dairy and eggs during 'fasting' seasons.

    Around the 20th century in earnest, the Roman Catholic Church (and the Anglicans and others, to the extent they mimicked the customs of the Vatican) abolished most of these distinctions by the 60s and 70s for their Latin rites. Thus, we only now, occasionally hear of the eating of fish on Fridays in Lent, or on Ash Wednesday, etc (fish [or sea food] not being counted as 'meat').

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01067a.htm

    As the 1013 CE states:
    "The attempt succeeded at Rome, so that thenceforward the Lenten season consisted of six weeks. During these six weeks Sundays were the only days not reached by the law of fasting, but the obligation to abstain was not withdrawn from Sundays."

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    1. Well, I did not have any meat dairy or eggs at the bar, so I think I am OK.

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