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Fasting support group

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Some of the members of this forum have decided to form a support group for fasting.  Here is the thread where we discussed it:

We wanted a subforum for collecting resources and discussing our experiences and ideas.  We have taken Our Lady as our patroness and, with Kaesekopf's permission, will be using this subforum.

Fasting is both an spiritual tradition going back to the beginning of the Church and a therapeutic practice for physical healing.  In both these aspects, it can be powerful and also dangerous.  In Scripture, we read of people who did religious fasts to show off and as a source of pride.  That is the spiritual danger.  Because of physical dangers, there are various kinds of people who should not fast: children, pregnant and nursing women, and people with eating disorders.  Anyone on medication needs to discuss with his doctor how to fast safely. Over time a habitual fasting practice may require that some medications (eg. for blood pressure or diabetes) be adjusted.  Ideally anyone who decides to start fasting should discuss it with a doctor and a spiritual director first.

As a group, we have decided to adopt the ancient Catholic practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.  As individuals, we each choose a form of fasting that is suitable for us.  It might be a water-only fast.  It might the one meal, two collations fast used pre-Vatican II.  It might simply be a matter of refraining from snacks and/or sugar that day.  Similarly, we each adapt the prayers and almsgiving that should accompany fasting.

The SSPX accepts the rules for fasting and abstinence as stated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law as obligatory, but encourages its associates to follow the practices which preceded this.  Most traditional Catholics (regardless of how they understand the Crisis in the Church)  follow older fasting practices:

Abstinence was obligatory on all Fridays, except on Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent.Fasting and complete abstinence were obligatory on the following days:
Ash Wednesday
Fridays and Saturdays in Lent
Good Friday
Holy Saturday (until midnight) 
Ember Days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)
Vigil of PentecostVigil of Christmas
possibly Vigils of the Immaculate Conception and All Saints (these were omitted from the 1962 calendar and trads differ)

Partial abstinence - Fasting and partial abstinence were obligatory on all other weekdays of Lent (i.e., Monday through Thursday—Friday was always complete abstinence); this meant that meat could be eaten at the principal meal on these days.

As a group, we are adding to these fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, based on the early Church practice.  These fasts were voluntary rather than obligatory and so it is with us.

Fridays and Saturdays in Lent?

This is just an SSPX rule, isn't it?

I thought it was Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent.

--- Quote ---... Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in Lent are the old feriæ legitimæ, the official days of penance ...
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---Fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church
Early Christians practiced regular weekly fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays (and Orthodox Christians continue to do so).
In the early 20th century, Church law prescribed fasting throughout Lent, with abstinence only on Friday and Saturday. Some countries received dispensations: Rome in 1918 allowed the bishops of Ireland to transfer the Saturday obligation to Wednesday;[citation needed] in the United States, abstinence was not required on Saturday. ...
--- End quote ---

I'm not a member of an SSPX chapel and I don't plan on being.  So I'll continue to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent, plus abstain every Friday through the year.


From the link to the other thread that Jayne provided (and that you participated in)...

--- Quote ---And I found out where the custom of fasting on Wednesday and Friday comes from:
(Didache 8:1) Do not fast with the hypocrites. They fast on Monday and Thursday, so you fast on Wednesday and Friday*

That makes it totally ancient and venerable.  The Didache is really early and important.  According to Wikipedia: "The Didache may have been compiled in its present form as late as 150, although a date closer to the end of the first century seems more probable to many."

--- End quote ---


--- Quote from: mikemac on June 04, 2020, 02:12:33 PM ---Fridays and Saturdays in Lent?

This is just an SSPX rule, isn't it?

I thought it was Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent.

--- End quote ---

I think the SSPX guideline is based on some countries that did it that way in the last century.  But the older practice is, like you say, Wednesdays rather than Saturdays, in addition to Fridays during Lent.

As I've been reading over the history of fasting, I've seen quite a bit of variation in different times and places.  We could do just about anything we want now and have a historical precedent for it.   :)


--- Quote ---We could do just about anything we want now and have a historical precedent for it. 
--- End quote ---

Except Mondays.  We still can't do those.  The Didache stipulation was to "not fast with the hypocrites", the current 'Meatless Mondays' trend is out, which is a bummer.  I love a good alliteration  :cheeseheadbeer:


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