Saturday, November 19, 2022
The Definitive Guide to Traditional Catholic Fasting & Abstinence

A collection of articles on the topic:

8 Part Series on the History of Catholic Fasting & Abstinence:

  1. The Purpose of Fasting
  2. Fasting in the Early Church Through the 5th Century
  3. Lenten Fasting in the Medieval Church: 5th – 13th Centuries
  4. Other Fasts in the Medieval Church: 5th – 13th Centuries
  5. Fasting During the Renaissance: 13th – Middle 18th Centuries
  6. Fasting in the Early Modern Era
  7. Fasting in the 1900s Pre-Vatican II
  8. Fasting Post-Vatican II

Various Articles on Fasting & Abstinence:

Liturgical Year-Related Articles for Fasting & Abstinence:

Fasting Calendars:

Friday, November 18, 2022
The (3) Basilicas of Chicago

chicago basilica
Chicago's three basilicas: St. Hyacinth, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Queen of All Saints

Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago's first basilica, seats 1,200 people beneath a soaring, barrel-vaulted coffered ceiling that rises 80 feet from the marble floor. The nave is 65 feet wide and features more than 1,100 ornate gold-leaf panels. An English Baroque-style steeple turns this Renaissance-Revival church into a local landmark. It once had a twin steeple that was destroyed by lightning. It was the first of Chicago's three basilicas.

The Parish of Our Lady of Sorrows was founded in 1874 by three Servants of Mary (Servites): Fathers Austin Morini and Andrew Venturi, and Brother Joseph Camera.  The Bishop of Chicago, Right Reverend Thomas Foley, enthusiastically approved their dream of a sanctuary where the Blessed Virgin could comfort her people and honor her Divine Son.

Within that first year, a plot of farmland was acquired on the city’s far West Side, and a brick church was built.  It was 102 feet long, 38 feet wide, and two stories high.  Midnight Mass was held inside on Christmas Eve, 1874.  In the following year, the little church, on the site of today’s Servite monastery, was beautifully frescoed.

Soon a much larger church was needed, and on June 17, 1890, the ground was broken for the Italian Renaissance-style church we see today.   The building was opened for Masses within months, under a temporary roof, while the walls had reached only half of their eventual height.  It was not until January 5, 1902, that the great church could be dedicated. When improvements were made to the lower church, Father James M. Keane compiled a booklet of prayers to be used in a new service that would take advantage of this basement shrine.  On January 8, 1937, the Sorrowful Mother Novena began an era that would establish Chicago’s Our Lady of Sorrows as a Marian Shrine of national and international fame.   Through the 1940’s and into the 1950’s the Great Novena filled the church weekly in up to 38 separate services.  The Novena spread to over 2300 additional parishes at the peak of its popularity. In 1941, an excellent video narrated by Archbishop Fulton J Sheen on the theology of the Traditional Latin Mass was filmed at Our Lady of Sorrows and is still accessible on YouTube.

In 1956, Pope Pius XII granted to Our Lady of Sorrows National Shrine the title of Basilica, and this honor was celebrated all throughout the following year with special pilgrimages. The Novena is still celebrated weekly, and the Basilica is increasingly being recognized for the splendor of its architecture, and the history it has witnessed.  Tragically, the upper stages of the Western tower were lost to fire in 1984.  But the interior and the exterior brickwork have benefited from periodic and ongoing restoration in recent years, resulting in a shrine that is breathtaking to many who enter for the first time. Like Lourdes,  or Czestochowa, or Fatima, or the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe……Our Lady of Sorrows remains a foyer of Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin seems close enough to surprise us with the rustle of her veil.

Sadly the church is located in a more dangerous area of Chicago and as such is often closed to visitors. We pray for a restoration of this church back to the Tridentine Mass, the return of Catholics practicing their Faith at Daily Mass, and an end to violence and crime in Chicago and everywhere.

Queen of All Saints is another one of the three basilicas in Chicago, IL. This one is located in the upper-middle-class Sauganash neighborhood.

The church, designed in a Neo-Gothic style by Meyer and Cook, was completed in 1960. The large window over the choir loft features eight different shrines of the Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Einsiedeln, Our Lady of the Snows, Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. This display alludes to the theme of the universality of the Catholic Church by highlighting that although these shrines are particular to a certain country or culture, Devotion to the Virgin Mary bridges over all these barriers, bringing together the different ethnic groups living in the Sauganash area of Forest Glen.

In 1962, in recognition of the historical, architectural, and religious significance of the church and the parish, the church was elevated to the dignity of a Basilica. This is a papal honor given only to a select few churches, only three in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The baptistry stained glass windows include scenes of the Treaty of Chicago in 1835, the agreement mediated by Billy Caldwell/Chief Sauganash which cleared the way for the expansion of the City of Chicago and which was signed just a few blocks from the Basilica. The baptistry windows also show the baptism of the children of Billy Caldwell/Chief Sauganash by Father Baden, the first priest ordained in the United States.

St. Hyacinth is the third of Chicago's three basilicas. It is located in the Avondale neighborhood and is a prime example of the Polish Cathedral style of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. Along with such monumental religious edifices as St. Mary of the Angels, St. Hedwig's, and St. Wenceslaus, it is one of the many monumental Polish churches visible from the Kennedy Expressway.

Founded in 1894 by Resurrectionsists from the city's first Polish parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Hyacinth became the center of Chicago's most well-known Polish Patch, Jackowo. The parish has been intimately tied in with Chicago's Polish immigrants, particularly those who arrived in the Solidarity and post-Solidarity waves of Polish migration to Chicago in the 1980s. On June 26, 2003, John Paul II granted the designation of a minor basilica, the third church in Illinois to achieve this status. On November 30, 2003, Cardinal Francis George OMI, officially proclaimed St. Hyacinth Church a basilica of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The 1999 film Stir of Echoes was partly filmed at St. Hyacinth Basilica.

St. Hyacinth of Poland was born in 1185 in what was then Upper Silesia (today modern Poland).  He was a relative and possibly the brother of Blessed Ceslas Odrowaz. St. Hyacinth was educated in both law and Sacred Studies and studied in the illustrious cities of Krakow, Prague, Paris, and Bologna.  Despite his education, he was first and foremost a holy priest.  After his ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ, he worked to reform convents in his native country. While on a trip to Rome with Bishop Ivo Konski, his uncle, he witnessed the glorious Patriarch St. Dominic perform a miracle that changed his life.  He became a personal friend of St. Dominic and then one of the first Dominicans. In fact, he was the first Polish Dominican and he brought the Order to Poland.  He was prolific in his work, evangelizing throughout Poland, Pomerania, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Russia, Turkey, and Greece. During an attack on a monastery, Hyacinth managed to save a crucifix and statue of Mary, though the statue weighed far more than he could normally have lifted; the saint is usually shown holding these two items. Hyacinth never served as provincial nor even a prior, but toiled as a simple friar, focusing on the internal and external missions facing the Polish Dominicans: to deepen their own faith, and to spread it through Poland.

Make it a point if you are a native Chicagoan or a visitor to explore some of these beautiful places, all of which are located well outside of the Loop and far from the usual tourist spots.

Thursday, November 3, 2022
Pray the Office of the Dead for the Poor Souls

Vespers of the Dead

The Office of the Dead is prayed by all on All Souls Day. However, you may also pray the Office of the Dead any other day of the year. The Office of the Dead on other days would be prayed in addition to the day's office. After Matins and Lauds for the day, you would pray the Office of the Dead's Matins and Lauds.  After Vespers for the day, you would pray Vespers from the Office of the Dead.  So, please feel free to pray this Office often for the Poor Souls, especially in November, with the intention of applying any merits and indulgences to them.

You may pray the Office of the Dead online at Divinum Officium for free now by clicking here and selecting "Defunctorum" in the bottom right.

Here follows Vespers from the Office of Dead:

Ant. I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living.

Psalm 114

I am well pleased, because the Lord hath heard * the voice of my prayer; Because he hath inclined his ear unto me; * therefore will I call upon him all my days. The sorrows of death compassed me round about, * and the perils of hell gat hold upon me. Sorrow and trouble did I find; * then called I upon the Name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul : * gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: * I was brought low, and he delivered me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; * for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For he hath delivered my soul from death, * mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living. 

Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant. I will walk before the Lord * in the land of the living.

Ant 2. Woe is me, O Lord, * that I am constrained to dwell among them that are enemies unto peace.

When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, * and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, * and from a deceitful tongue.What reward shall be given or done unto thee, thou false tongue? * even mighty and sharp arrows, with hot burning coals.Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Meshech, * and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt among them * that are enemies unto peace. I labour for peace; but when I speak unto them thereof, * they make them ready to battle. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 2. Woe is me, O Lord, * that I am constrained to dwell among them that are enemies unto peace.

Ant 3. The Lord shall preserve thee * from all evil ; yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.

I have lifted up mine eyes unto the hills; * from whence cometh my help. My help cometh even from the Lord, * who hath made heaven and earth. May he not suffer thy foot to be moved; * neither let him slumber that keepeth thee. Behold, he that keepeth Israel * shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy defence * upon thy right hand. The sun shall not burn thee by day, * neither the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; * yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in, * from this time forth for evermore. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 3. The Lord shall preserve thee * from all evil ; yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.

Ant 4. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme * to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?

Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord; * Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears be attentive * to the voice of my supplication. If thou, O Lord, shalt observe our iniquities, * Lord, who may endure it? For with thee there is merciful forgiveness : * and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word * my soul hath hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch even until night : * let Israel hope in the Lord. Because with the Lord there is mercy, * and with him plentiful redemption. And he shall redeem Israel * from all his iniquities. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 4. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme * to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?

Ant 5. Despise not, O Lord, * the works of thine own hands.

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; * for thou hast heard the words of my mouth. Even before the Angels will I sing praise unto thee, * I will worship toward thy holy temple, and I will give glory unto thy Name. Because of thy loving-kindness and truth; * for thou hast magnified thy holy Name above all things. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear thou me; * thou shalt endue my soul with much strength. May all the kings of the earth give glory unto thee, O Lord; * for they have heard all the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord, * for great is the glory of the Lord. For the Lord is high, yet looketh he upon the lowly; * and the high he knoweth them afar off. Though I walk in the midst of tribulation, yet shalt thou quicken me; * and thou hast stretched forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand hath saved me. The Lord shall render for me; * yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands. Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Ant 5. Despise not, O Lord, * the works of thine own hands.

V. I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me.
R. Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord.

Magnificat Ant: All * that the Father hath given unto me shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, † * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; * as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever. 

Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light * shine upon them.

Magnificat Ant: All * that the Father hath given unto me shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.

Our Father ...

V. From the gates of hell.
R. Deliver his soul, O Lord.

V. May he rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

O God, who art thyself at once the Maker and the Redeemer of all thy faithful ones, grant unto the souls of thy servants and handmaids remission of all their sins, making of our entreaties unto our great Father a mean whereby they may have that forgiveness which they have ever hoped for. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. R. Amen

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Depicting Saints Together Who Had No Earthly Connection

Madonna Enthroned with Angels, St. Apollonia, St. Augustine, St. Catherine, St. Joseph, St. Grata, St. Philip Benizzi and St. Barbara

In honor of the great celebration of All Saints, I thought it was appropriate to reflect on the Communion of Saints now in Heaven. While on earth many of the saints did not know one another - as they came from different places and different time periods in history - they are presented today united in Heaven in praising and glorifying God. 

When on a recent visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, I noticed for the first time how artists would frequently paint saints together who had no earthly connection. They were not contemporaries. They did not live or die together. They were not related. In fact, many of them are not even liturgically commemorated together. Stripping out those instances, the number of saints painted together is still rather large and serves as a nice meditation of how we - should we make it to Heaven - hope to join in their number and their Communion, though the ages have separated us from overlapping on earth with them.

Here are some examples:

Sts. Peter and Dorothy

Virgin and Child with Ss Dominic and Hyacinth (though both from the same Order)

Sts. Anthony, Cornelius, and Cyprian

Madonna and Child with St. James of Galicia and St. Helena

Coronation of the Virgin with Saints Francis and the Benedict

Madonna and Child in Glory with St. Bartholomew, St. John the Baptist, St. Albert, and St. Jerome

Madonna and Child with Saints Lawrence, Nicholas, and Francis of Rome

Friday, October 21, 2022
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Sunday, October 16, 2022
Who May Receive Holy Communion?

If someone is planning to receive our Lord in Holy Communion at Mass, there are several requirements to keep in mind:

1. You must be a baptized Catholic who has already made his/her First Holy Communion.

2. You must not have ANY mortal sin on your soul that has not been absolved in Sacramental Confession. To receive Holy Communion in the state of sin without SACRAMENTAL confession is a sacrilege and a most serious sin. You will get no graces from Holy Communion if you do - only the most severe punishments. This was made manifestly clear in Canon 856 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. St. Cyril of Alexandria explains further the gravity when he says, “They who make a sacrilegious Communion receive Satan and Jesus Christ into their heart.  Satan, that they may let him rule, and Jesus Christ that they may offer Him in sacrifice to Satan.”

3. Observe the Eucharistic Fast before Holy Communion

4. Pay attention at Mass and be especially devout from the time of the Offertory through the Consecration and until the Priest's Communion at the end of the Canon.

5. Approach Holy Communion reverently, dressed modestly and desiring to receive our Lord who you profess is present in the Eucharistic Host in His Body, Blood, Soul, AND Divinity under the appearance (but not substance) of bread. You must receive Holy Communion reverently as well.

6. And you must approach the Sacred Altar with a proper intention. We must have a “right and pious intention.” St. Pius X lists several intentions which are not right and pious. They include approaching the altar to receive “through habit, or vanity, or human reasonings.” Thus, receiving Holy Communion just because everyone else is receiving or because we do so only to appear holy to others is not with the right intention. On the contrary, St. Pius X summarizes a right and pious intention as one that seeks “to satisfy the pleasure of God, to be joined with Him more closely in charity and to oppose one’s infirmities and defects with that divine remedy.”

Beyond these necessary conditions, St. Pius X set forth, especially for those who sought to receive Holy Communion very regularly – even daily – more perfect dispositions to strive for when he wrote: “It is especially expedient that those who practice frequent and daily communion be free from venial sins, at least from such as are fully deliberate, and any affection thereto.” As theologians have commented subsequently, there is a difference between venial sins that are fully deliberate and those venial sins that are not fully deliberate, and which we frequently call imperfections. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Observe the Anniversary of the Consecration of a Church

Consecration Cross on the Wall at St. John Cantius (Chicago, IL)

Traditionally, the anniversary of the consecration of a diocese’s cathedral is observed as a significant feastday in churches throughout the diocese. Written in 1908, the Catholic Encyclopedia underscores the importance of this anniversary:

“The anniversary of the consecration is kept solemnly as a double of the first class with an octave each recurring year, until the church falls into ruin or is profaned...Besides the anniversary of the consecration of individual or parish churches, the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral of a diocese is celebrated as a double of the first class with an octave by the secular clergy living within the limits of the cathedral city...” 

Sadly, Pope Pius XII in "Cum nostra hac aetate" on March 23, 1955, abolished 15 Octaves in addition to the Octave for the Dedication of a Church, and particular octaves for patrons of various religious orders, countries, and dioceses. While the 1962 Missal retains the actual anniversary day of a church or the cathedral as a First-Class Feast, few observe these venerable observances any longer. If more people were to keep the anniversary of our parish and our cathedral as days of celebration in our families, would that not bring us in greater connection to the Church as a whole? How many of us even know the anniversary date when our parish or cathedral was consecrated?

One venerable tradition connecting us to the consecration is the lighting of the consecration crosses. Each of the twelve places on the wall which were anointed as part of the consecration candle on the spot which are lit on the anniversary of the consecration. 

Catholic churches are no ordinary buildings. We do not honor churches because they are museums or art galleries or works of art in themselves. Catholic churches are specifically consecrated and set aside for the worship of the True God alone.

It is so important that we honor and protect Catholic churches and help fund the construction of beautiful ones since God Himself dwells in them. He is truly present on the altar and in the tabernacle. For this reason, Catholics should piously make the sign of the Cross even when they drive past one, out of respect for the Real Presence. And we should visit them and pray before our Lord present in the Tabernacle whenever possible. Honor God by honoring that which is consecrated to Him. Honor your parishes and help us build up the kingdom of God brick by brick as we rediscover our venerable traditions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Why Every Catholic Should Carry A Rosary

The Rosary is regarded as the greatest prayer we can offer next to only the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort remarked, "The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother." 

Indulgence for Carrying the Rosary

There are many miracles associated with the Rosary and Heaven has asked us to offer Rosaries many times. But besides these reasons, the Church blesses the Rosary with various indulgences. A plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary (i.e., 5 decades) is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.

In fact, beyond praying the Rosary, an indulgence may be gained for anyone who carries a properly blessed Rosary:

The faithful who devoutly carry about their person a Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary that has been properly blessed may gain an Indulgence of 500 days once a day, if they kiss the Rosary and at the same time devoutly recite these words of the Angelic Salutation: Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Taken from Pope Pius XII, Audience March 12, 1953

But it must be added that this requires the right intention as it is not magic. To be capable of gaining indulgences, a person must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the end of the prescribed works. To gain indulgences, however, a capable subject must have at least the general intention of acquiring them and must fulfill the enjoined works in the established time and the proper method, according to the tenor of the grant. (1983 CIC 996 §1-2) 

An Example for Others

In addition to the indulgence, by carrying the Rosary on us, we will undoubtedly have times of taking it out of our pockets. This small act to show others our Catholic Faith can help bring about the respect and conversion of non-Catholics and can help subtly encourage fallen-away Catholics to return to practicing the Faith.

Start Today

If you do not carry the Rosary on you, make it a resolution to carry one in your pocket or bag at all times. And do not be afraid to take it out and pray it publicly.

Monday, September 12, 2022
2023 Traditional Catholic Fasting and Abstinence Calendar

Click for Larger Size

As a follow-up to the significant research I have done in regard to Traditional (both Roman and Eastern) Catholic fasting and abstinence, I have put together a 2023 fasting and abstinence calendar for my own devotional purposes. This is a follow-up to a similar one I did in 2022.

Traditional Catholic Fasting Rules:

Fasting: Fasting refers to how much food we eat. It means taking only one meal during a calendar day. The meal should be an average-sized meal as overeating at the one meal is against the spirit of the fast. Fasting generally means that the meal is to be taken later in the day. Along with the one meal, up to two snacks (technically called either a collation or frustulum) are permitted. These are optional, not required. Added up together, they may not equal the size of the one meal. No other snacking throughout the day is permitted. Fasting does not affect liquids, aside from the Eucharistic Fast which is a separate matter.

Abstinence: Abstinence in this context refers to not eating meat. Meat refers to the fleshmeat of mammals or fowl. Beef, poultry, lamb, etc are all forbidden on days of abstinence. Abstinence does not currently prohibit animal byproducts like dairy (e.g. cheese, butter, milk) or eggs, but in times past they were prohibited. Fish is permitted along with shellfish and other cold-blooded animals like alligators. In times past, days of fast were always days of abstinence as well; however, not all days of abstinence were days of mandatory fasting.

Partial Abstinence: Partial Abstinence refers to eating meat only at the principal meal of the day. Days of partial abstinence do not permit meat to be eaten as part of the collation or the frustulum. Partial abstinence started only in 1741 under Pope Benedict XIV as a concession and as part of a gradual weakening of discipline. Beforehand, days of abstinence were days of complete abstinence.

Fasting, therefore, refers to the quantity of food and the frequency of eating. Abstinence refers to what may or may not be eaten.

Calendar Notes:

1. Partial Abstinence is a modern invention and is not part of this calendar. Abstinence is always full, never partial. 

2. All Days of Lent aside from Sundays are days of fasting and abstinence. Sundays are days only of abstinence.

3. For Lent only abstinence refers to all animal products (e.g. dairy, butter, eggs) in addition to meat. This includes Sundays.

4. January 22nd is in the USA only an obligatory day of penance for offenses against the dignity of human life.

5. This calendar keeps the 1954 Roman Catholic Calendar and the pre-1917 practice of anticipating Vigils on Saturday that fall on Sunday in a given year.

6. Major Fasts: Great Lent (March 2 - April 16), Apostles Fast (June 13 - June 28)Dormition Fast (Aug 1 - Aug 14)St. Martin's Lent (Nov 14 - Dec 24).

7. Dominican Specific Fasting Days: April 29, August 3, and October 6 are not on the calendar but will be observed by Dominican Tertiary per the 1923 Rule (the last one before Vatican II). Same with all Fridays of the year which Dominicans are asked to keep as days of fasting.

8. Days of fasting generally include all of the Major Fasts as noted above in addition to the following days when they fall outside of those periods: Ember Days, Vigils of the Apostles, and Vigils for Major Feasts. Rogation Days were often days of abstinence but not fast.

9. Saturday Abstinence used to be obligatory year-round with some exceptions for days "as often as no major solemnity (e.g. Christmas) occurs on Saturday, or no infirmity serves to cancel the obligation.” One exception granted in some places was for all Saturdays of the Christmas Season to be exempted.

10. Above all, this calendar goes far beyond the mere "minimums" which are virtually non-existent and attempts to present concrete ways for Catholics to actually fast in the manner as our forefathers did.

Not listed but certainly recommendable based on the Early Church's practice of Wednesday penance (and based on the wishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), would be to also observe abstinence year-round on Wednesdays (beyond the dates noted on the calendar). Such a practice would be commendable on all additional Wednesdays of the year with exceptions whenever either a Holy Day of Obligation, Former Holy Day of Obligation, or First Class Feast falls on Wednesday.

For those interested in understanding the various ways fasting and abstinence have changed over time, please explore the archives regarding fasting and abstinence. And for those looking for ideas on what to make to eat on fasting days, the Lenten Cookbook produced by Sophia Institute Press has a section on vegan recipes that is worth checking out.

Friday, September 9, 2022
May A Catholic Pray for the Soul of HM Queen Elizabeth II?

"It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Maccabees 12:46).

There Is No Salvation Outside of the Church

The Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of the Church (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus). This is a dogma of the Faith and must be believed. It has been affirmed by Popes and saints. For instance, Pope Eugene IV in Cantate Domino in 1441 AD declares:

"The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pours out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remains within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

And St. Augustine earlier wrote: "No one can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Church, you can find everything except salvation. You can have dignities, you can have Sacraments, you can sing "'Alleluia,' answer 'Amen,' have the Gospels, have faith in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and preach it, too. But never can you find salvation except in the Catholic Church."

Praying for the Souls of Non-Catholics Is Not Contrary to Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

The Church encourages and allows private prayer for anyone, even those who died as non-Catholics since we do not know the state of their soul at the moment of death. Miraculous conversions have been won before by people who seemed to be unconscious but who, through miracles, were given the grace to choose the Faith at the moment of death. It does happen and thus we must pray for the salvation of all souls, especially for their conversion to salvation at the moment of death. And since God sees our prayers outside of time, we can pray for anyone's last-minute conversion, even long after their death. In effect, the soul will then truly die as a Catholic even if in the eyes of the world they appeared to die separated from the Faith. This is my particular prayer for Queen Elizabeth II.

The Church Permits Prayers for the Dead for Everyone

The Catholic Encyclopedia makes this clear:

"There is no restriction by Divine or ecclesiastical law as to those of the dead for whom private prayer may be offered — except that they may not be offered formally either for the blessed in heaven or for the damned. Not only for the faithful who have died in external communion with the Church, but for deceased non-Catholics, even the unbaptized, who may have died in the state of grace, one is free to offer his personal prayers and good works; nor does the Church's prohibition of her public offices for those who have died out of external communion with her affect the strictly personal element in her minister's acts. For all such she prohibits the public offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass (and of other liturgical offices); but theologians commonly teach that a priest is not forbidden to offer the Mass in private for the repose of the soul of any one who, judging by probable evidence, may be presumed to have died in faith and grace, provided, at least, he does not say the special requiem Mass with the special prayer in which the deceased is named, since this would give the offering a public and official character."

It is true that the offering of prayers and sacrifices for the souls of those in Hell is of no use. But since we do not know the state of a soul at death, we can nevertheless in an act of charity offer prayers for all of the departed. Only God judges the heart and knows the state of the soul at death (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7).

Requiem Masses Are Not Permitted for Non-Catholics

While we may and should pray for the salvation of all mankind, we do know that the public offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the souls of non-Catholics is not permitted. Canon 1240 in the 1917 Code explicitly forbid the privilege of ecclesiastical burial rites to anyone who died as a known member of a heretical sect. Even if this distinction is not mentioned in the modernist 1983 Code, we know the 1917 Code expressed the wisdom of centuries of Catholic dogma.

This is similarly affirmed, with the distinction of public versus private prayer, in the American Ecclesiastical Review from 1896 which answers the question of whether a priest may perform funeral rites over the dead by answering:

"No, a priest cannot lawfully perform the ceremony of burial for a deceased non-Catholic or one who, having been baptized a Catholic, has defected. The presence of a priest officiating at the burial cannot be construed as a civil function, for the act of consigning a person to his grave requires no authorized witness, like the contract of marriage. The burial service of the Catholic ritual is a religious function in which we cannot share with those who deny the truth of our faith and worship, for we should implicitly, by our service, sanction the protest of the deceased against the Catholic religion. Of course, there are cases where a priest may and should bury those who are not of his faith, just as he may pray for them privately." 

This is the distinction between public and private prayer. Hence, the words of Pope St. Gregory II in 731 AD are referring to public worship:

“You ask for advice on the lawfulness of making offerings for the dead.  The teaching of the Church is this – that every man should make offerings for those who died as true Christians [Catholics]… But he is not allowed to do so for those who die in a state of sin even if they were Christians.” 


May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. There is no salvation outside of the Church. But God alone knows the state of a soul at death. Thus in our charity and love for all man - since we desire all to be saved - we continue to pour forth private prayers for the conversion and salvation and mitigation of Purgatory for everyone, even those who in our eyes died outside the Church but who may have made a perfect act of contrition or who became Catholic by divine intervention right before the moment of God. 

God have mercy on them all, especially on the soul of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her ancestors. And may her heirs return the British Crown to public reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church and the See of Peter.


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