Abstinence, Fasting and Sacrafice – oh my!


Have you ever wondered why McDonald’s starts randomly advertising fish sandwiches around late winter or early spring?  Have you ever wanted a handy, dandy guide to Lent or wondered why Easter falls on a different day every year?  Wonder no more!

Easter must always occur on a Sunday, because Sunday was the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It coincides with the paschal full moon, because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar.  The Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover soooooo Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

The Church uses an approximation of the date of the paschal full moon, because the paschal full moon can fall on different days in different time zones meaning Easter would be different dates depending on the time zone. For calculation purposes, the full moon is always set at the 14th day of the lunar month (which begins with the new moon). The Church sets the date of the vernal equinox at March 21, even though it can occur on March 20. Both approximations allow the Church to set a universal date for Easter.  Easy – right? (or you could just look a your calendar and let someone else worry about how the date is determined).

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday or, in French, Mardi Gras that makes today – Wait for it –  Ash Wednesday.  For many Christians, Ash Wednesday is the start of the penitential season of Lent.  Being a Catholic, I observe Lent. While some people might dread Lent, I actually kind of like it.  It gives me a good excuse to reflect on my beliefs and values and to identify those areas of my life that could use a little shining and refining.  I also like that it leads to Easter and Easter is in the Spring and I really like Spring and Chocolate which are associate with Easter so………

During Lent, Catholics are expected to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Fasting means eating only one full meal with two small meals “sufficient to maintain strength” allowed.  Eating between meals breaks the fast, but drinking liquids is allowed.  The rules of fasting apply to all Catholics age 18 to 59. Not bad – right?

The rule of abstinence applies to all Catholics 14 years and older and, in this context, refers to abstaining from eating meat.  Fish is allowed on days of abstinence (Woot Woot).   Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all other Fridays during lent are days of abstinence.

The observance of fasting and abstinence are considered serious obligations; however, those whose work or health would be impaired are excused. The “individual conscience” can decide if a good reason to be excused from the observance exists. (Catholic loop hole).   Self-imposed fasting on other weekdays during lent and all Fridays during the year gets you Catholic bonus points (okay – not really, but it is highly recommended).

Catholics are also expected to make some sacrifice or to “give something up” for lent.  I like to do something that will bring me closer to my faith and maybe make me a better person instead.  Giving something up generally just makes me bitter which doesn’t make anything better.

This year I have decided to get up 30 minutes early every weekday.  I hate getting up in the morning so it is a sacrifice for me to give up 30 minutes of sleep.  I plan to use those 30 minutes to attend daily mass , get to work early or to practice yoga devoting my practice to gratitude.  I guess it will be a 40 day challenge of sorts.

Find Your Om Balance – Terri