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Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches #375317
02/06/12 01:15 PM
02/06/12 01:15 PM
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Theodore N. Offline OP
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Theodore N.  Offline OP
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I have a Roman Catholic friend who brought to my attention yesterday her understanding of fasting during Lent. I was taught in my parish (Ruthenian Catholic) that the fasts were the ideal, but that if we do not meet them perfectly that does not thereby mean we've sinned. She was under the impression that not fulfilling the Church designated fasts was binding under pain of mortal sin. What is the true teaching of the Church then on this matter? It can't be as simple as the eastern Churches saying 'try your best and if you mess up no biggie' and the western Church saying 'if you make one mistake you should go to confession because it's a grave matter'. I attached her e-mail response on this topic to me below. I'm waiting to respond until I have more clarification on this topic. This topic also ties into the differences between east and west on mortal/venial sins. I keep hearing contradictory answers as to what we actually believe and where the common meeting ground is.
Thanks in advance to all who help with my question,
Theodore


"I've done a little research on the breaking Friday, Ash Wednesday fast and abstinence during Lent and it seems that it is considered grave matter. It seems most well-informed Catholics are under the impression that it is a grave sin and have been taught so, so it seems unlikely that this is an error as we have been taught this our whole life. Generally, when there is an error in teaching it is in the spirit of something being taught as less grave than more. The gravity of this seems to fall under the context of disobedience to the authority of the Church. Here is an exerpt from Pope Paul VI's apostolic constitution Paenitemini in regards to this subject:

"The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation through-out the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of "Grande Quaresima" (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rite. Their substantial observance binds gravely [Norm II §1" (emphasis added)"



Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches [Re: Theodore N.] #375320
02/06/12 02:02 PM
02/06/12 02:02 PM
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JBenedict Offline
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Quote
She was under the impression that not fulfilling the Church designated fasts was binding under pain of mortal sin. What is the true teaching of the Church then on this matter? It can't be as simple as the eastern Churches saying 'try your best and if you mess up no biggie' and the western Church saying 'if you make one mistake you should go to confession because it's a grave matter'.


Why can't it be (roughly) that simple? We've been given different commands and so we have different responsibilities.

My understanding (as a Latin) of the Eastern rules is that you should ideally decide what you will undertake in consultation with your spiritual father and that disobeying him is more serious than just not meeting the abstract ideal standard set for everyone.

Last edited by JBenedict; 02/06/12 02:04 PM. Reason: formatting/expansion
Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches [Re: JBenedict] #375322
02/06/12 02:30 PM
02/06/12 02:30 PM
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Curious Joe Offline
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On the Eastern side of the fence, our Lenten obligation includes a combination of fasting, prayer and charity. We have norms for fasting that are to be followed by those who are physically able, but they are not absolute. Ad JBenedict explains, a consultation with a spiritual advisor may lead to a different prescription, if permitted under the circumstances.

But it is not through fasting alone that we journey through Great Lent. Prayer and charity are equally important and must work into our Lenten journey of spiritual renewal.

Each time I speak of this with my Latin Catholic cousins (my extended family, not just close acquaintances), I am reminded of the seeming emphasis on "self-denial" as the primary focus of the Lenten experience in the West.

Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches [Re: Theodore N.] #375326
02/06/12 04:14 PM
02/06/12 04:14 PM
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Paul B Offline
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Paul B  Offline
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Quote
I have a Roman Catholic friend who brought to my attention yesterday her understanding of fasting during Lent. I was taught in my parish (Ruthenian Catholic) that the fasts were the ideal, but that if we do not meet them perfectly that does not thereby mean we've sinned. She was under the impression that not fulfilling the Church designated fasts was binding under pain of mortal sin. What is the true teaching of the Church then on this matter?


Glory to Jesus Christ!

I'm pretty sure the Western Church has a pastoral exemption to fasting. The matter of sin falls in the Church law category which includes attending Liturgy, yearly confession and Communion, supporting the Church, and observing the laws of Marriage.

Thanks for posting Theodore. There is much confusion with regard to fasting requirements; hopefully I can give you a good answer.

It would be helpful to view this video where Fr Moses of Holy Resurrection Monastery answers questions in an interview with Catherine Alexander at this link Youtube

With regard to the pain of sin, our Ruthenian Church mandates (according to the Church calendar) abstinence from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, plus strict abstinence on the 1st day of the Great Fast and Good Friday. Explicit pastoral permission may exempt one from fasting.

Tradition fasting, which is done out of one's repentance would include complete abstinence from meat, eggs and dairy products from the 1st day until Pascha. One would not commit a sin by not participating in this fast (unless one lied about it or other similar circumstance.)

Out of repentance and love for God you should try to fast as much as possible. This would range from the minimum to as much as you can healthily forsake.

May you have a rewarding Great Fast
Fr Deacon Paul

Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches [Re: Theodore N.] #375329
02/06/12 04:32 PM
02/06/12 04:32 PM
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Penthaetria Offline
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Every year we hear the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom:

"Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away."

I think that squares with what you were taught about fasting in the East.

Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Church [Re: Theodore N.] #375340
02/06/12 07:33 PM
02/06/12 07:33 PM
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Thomas the Seeker Offline
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Years ago the Chicago Archdiocese publication "Paschal Mission" explained the Lenten disciplines as being similar to a three-legged stool: All are needed for balance.

It went on:

Fasting without prayer and almsgiving is merely dieting.
Almsgiving without prayer and fasting is merely philanthropy.
Prayer without fasting and almsgiving is merely hypocricy.

Last edited by Thomas the Seeker; 02/06/12 07:38 PM.
Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Church [Re: Theodore N.] #375343
02/06/12 08:02 PM
02/06/12 08:02 PM
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Fr. Deacon Lance Offline
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The following is sent out every year by the chancery:

REGULATIONS FOR THE SEASON OF THE GREAT FAST

The fasts of the liturgical year are to be kept in accordance with the Norms of Particular Law of the Byzantine Metropolitan Church sui iuris of Pittsburgh.

ABSTINENCE

• The law of simple abstinence forbids the use of meat, permitting the use of eggs and dairy products.

• All the faithful of the Archeparchy who receive the Eucharist are bound to abstain.

• Abstinence is obligatory on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast.

STRICT ABSTINENCE

• The law of strict abstinence (fast) forbids the use of meat, eggs and dairy products. While they are permitted, facsimiles, substitutes, and synthetic derivatives violate the intention and spirit of the law of strict abstinence.

• All the faithful of the Archeparchy who receive the Eucharist are bound to observe strict abstinence.

• Strict abstinence (fast) is to be observed on Pure Monday, (the first day of the Great Fast) and on Great and Holy Friday.

DISPENSATIONS

• Priests and parents are to see to it that minors are educated in the authentic sense of penance.

• Pastors and administrators, because of a just cause and taking into account acceptable reasons due to personal circumstances, may grant to the individual faithful as well as to individual families, dispensations, transferals, or commutations of abstinence and strict fast into other pious practices. Superiors of religious houses or clerical institutions enjoy these same faculties relative to their subjects.

LITURGICAL SERVICES

• The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts takes precedence over all other Lenten Devotions.

• The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts only is to be celebrated on Wednesdays and/or Friday evenings of the Great Fast and also on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week.

• Other services are encouraged during the season of the Great Fast, but only those in keeping with the traditions of the Byzantine Church , namely, Lenten Vespers, Lenten Hours, Akathist to the Passion, and Lenten Devotions.

• On Wednesday of Holy Week, the Office of the Holy Anointing may be incorporated into the Presanctified Divine Liturgy.



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Re: Rules Regarding Lenten Fasting in the Eastern Catholic Church [Re: Theodore N.] #375344
02/06/12 08:12 PM
02/06/12 08:12 PM
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Posts: 4,149
Washington, PA
Fr. Deacon Lance Offline
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So if you don't abstain on Wed/Fri in Lent you shouldn't receive Communion, just like you shouldn't receive if you don't abstain before Liturgy. You don't commit sin by failing to abstain but you aren't properly prepared to receive Communion either.


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