Feast or Fast?

Every year this argument comes up in our household: I’ve heard that every Sunday is a feast day of the resurrection so you can break your Lenten fast on Sundays.

Sure enough, if you count the ‘forty days’ from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday there are actually 46 days, so if you take out the Sundays you do get 40 days of fasting.

So what’s the verdict? I’ve given up booze for Lent. Can I have a tipple on Sundays?

UPDATE: Over at Credo a very definitive answer is provided with not a little bit of very cool scholarship. This is a great answer to my question–especially as it allow me to have a glass of wine tomorrow…

"Catholicism has always defined the ideal but there are no limits on God's mercy and ..."

Tony Palmer: Is There Salvation Outside ..."
"With all due respect, Shaun, are you relegating the actual Faith to whatever the local ..."

Notes on Tony Palmer’s Funeral
"There are good parking valets and bad parking valets. There are good housesitters and bad ..."

The Case for Conversion to Catholicism
"did you vote for Bush Fr Longenecker? would you have?"

Understanding Iraq

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jeron

    I’ve given up alcohol for Lent, too. And I loooove me some red wine, baby … so this is gonna be a struggle. However, I’m gonna T-R-Y to include Sundays in my Lenten Abstention. I’m also including the Stations on Fridays.

  • If we’re taking a vote, I vote for tippling on Sundays.

  • Clare

    Of course you can! Every cradle Catholic knows that Sundays are not part of Lent. To include them is a temptation to spiritual pride – the Church’s discipline isn’t strict enough for ME.

  • Good for Clare – a rigorist! (or should that be rigourist?)Fr D will no doubt recall Chapter 49 of The Rule of OHF St Benedict, the tenor of which is all in moderation and ‘whatever is undertaken without the permission of [one’s] spiritual father will be reckoned as presumption and vainglory, not deserving a reward.’ Not a million miles from Clare’s ‘temptation to spiritual pride.’

  • I’m of the school that Sundays during Lent are part of Lent (hence “First Sunday of Lent”), but that fasting on the Lord’s Day is a contradiction in terms. The added days from Ash Wednesday until the First Sunday of Lent can be thought of as a kind tacked-on set of fasting days to make up for the Sundays and solemnities that fall during Lent.

  • Anonymous

    Mike,The question is not whether to fast on Sundays or not, which I agree would be a contradiction since Sunday is the original feast day. The question is whether Fr. D. should continue with his Lenten sacrifice on Sunday. For me, the sacrifice seems to be lessened if a life preserver is thrown to you every six days. I chose to give up coffee, all other forms of caffeine, and all soft drinks. To me, the meaning of the sacrifice would be lessened if it wasn’t for the duration of Lent. The 40 days (or 46) seem daunting. The six day sacrifice…I would like to think I could do almost anything for six days without much of a problem.

  • Anon, that’s very true in the case of giving up specific foods/drinks: it just isn’t much of a sacrifice if you can still consume it once per week. But still, I think the early Church would have found it unthinkable to fast on Sundays.

  • Clare

    Mike is right, and I was imprecise in my comment. The Sundays of Lent are part of the season, but the Church in her loving wisdom tells us that they are not days of fasting, whatever form it takes. Not only that, but Sunday starts on Saturday evening, so you can even have your tipple on Saturday night, father.

  • Anonymous

    But if Sundays don’t count, how come there was a tradition of using up eggs on Shrove Tuesday?

  • Anonymous

    But if Sundays don’t count, how come there was a tradition of using up eggs on Shrove Tuesday?

  • Hrmm… it seems Mac McLernon is asking the same.I was told Sundays are in the season, but not days of a pentitential nature. I personally don’t want to stop because then there’s the dangers I ignore Wednesdays and Fridays. So, it’ll be a little respite for me, but no, no tipple…

  • Perhaps, as a via media, more sacramental vine can be added to the chalice to be consecrated? =)

  • B.

    The German website kreuz.net (and I can’t check the veracity) quoted a syriac canonic text from 350-380, the 66th of 85 apostolic canones as:Fasting on sundays is not allowed. If someone is found to be fasting on sundays, he shall be deposed or excommunicated

  • Anonymous

    Giving up a glass of wine on Sunday can hardly be called “fasting”. How about calling it an “offering” instead. Is there anything wrong with that?Our pastor tells of a woman in a previous parish who loved polka dancing, and every Lent she would give up polka dancing as a penance. However, since Sunday was not a day of penance, she decided that it was all right to go polka dancing on Sunday. However, Sunday was the only day of the week when polka dances were held. 🙂

  • Ahh, well it is all more complicated isn’t it? The gospel actually tells us not to broadcast our fasting. It should be done in secret, so if I am publicly talking about giving up booze, perhaps I (and many others) are secretly fasting far more severely than they are letting on.But I’m not telling one way or the other.

  • Aaarghhh…. this is soooo frustrating!Ok, now, remember, the Triduum is not “Lent” it’s the Triduum! That means, starting with Ash Wednesday, there are 44 days in Lent (the Triduum starts with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper)…so now what?

  • Anonymous

    I hate, just hate, to make the bed in the morning. It takes a buggy whip to make me make the bed. But for a Lenten penance, I promise (successfully) to make my every day of Lent. Do I have to make my bed on Sundays? A day off sure would be great. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Let me add that, the reason I don’t make my bed is that I’m just too lazy,in spite of the fact that my husband has to share an unkempt room. (Lest you think that making a bed is just a minor thing. The last I heard, sloth was a deadly sin.) Making my bed every day in Lent is an exercise, not only in penance, but also self-discipline, mortification, and redemptive suffering. Do I still have to make the bed on Sundays?

  • I suggest you change from sheets and blankets to a duvet. You simply shake it out each morning like a tablecloth and the bed is made.

  • Anonymous

    A duvet just won’t solve the problem of my slothful soul, Father. So, I will make the bed on Sunday (73+ years of sleeping habits just don’t go away), not in a spirit of penance but out of a love of God and in a spirit of cheerfulness and gratitude that I have a bed to sleep in, unlike the Son of Man who had nowhere to lay his head.

  • tonight i asked a catholic friend of mine if i could break my lenten abstention and he couldn’t answer me on this question. thanks for the timely insight.

  • I gave up playing Pogo (online games) for Lent. Since today is Sunday and I have always subscribed to the Sunday free rule during Lent, I tried to log on to play a game of Bingo (and can you get more Catholic than that??). However, I was unable to connect, leading me to believe that the lord, indeed, does not want me to play Pogo on Sundays. So that was my answer!!

  • In most faiths it is a sin to fast on a feast day. A Muslim friend of mine once told me, when we were discussing the subject of his breaking the fast of Ramadan, “Only the devil would fast on a feast day. Remember, even our Good Lord rested on the seventh day and not keeping it holy would be a sin”.Perhaps everyone should focus on fasting even more during the other 6 days, so there isn’t even a question of could you fast more?The question at my house is what to do on St. Patrick’s Day which, for those of you who are counting, is a feast day that actually falls on one of the 40 days of Lent. I was told that it too is a day of feasting. Yay for green beer!

  • Jay

    Here’s a crazy suggestion. Do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do.

  • Hi Nice Blog . In order to successfully in online bingo promotion, it is important to understand who the players are, where they are coming from and ultimately how to convert them into real players in Bingo online games