Friday, November 15, 2019
St. Martin's Lent
edit_button

Detail from Charité de Saint Martin by Caroline Sorg (1864)

November 15th in the Eastern Rite Churches begins the Nativity Fast. This 40-day long period fasting is a preparation for the holy celebration of Christmas. Like Lent, the Eastern Churches observe a period of 40 days of fasting in preparation for the Nativity of the Lord. This was practiced for many centuries by the Western Church, especially before Advent became four weeks in Lent. Previously, Advent was modeled after Lent. The fast, which shortly follows Martinmas, is often called "St. Martin's Lent." Learn more at AroundtheYear. The exact beginning has varied. Sometime ago it was begun on November 12th, the day immediately after Martinmas, thus taking the name of St. Martin's Lent. In the Byzantine tradition it is called both the Nativity Fast as well as St. Philip's Fast since November 14th is the Feast of St. Philip in the Byzantine Rite.

[St. Martin’s Lent] was formerly observed, even by the Laity, with Abstinence from Flesh, and with a rigorous Fast, in some Places, by Precept, in others of Devotion, and without any positive Obligation, though universal. The first Council of Maçon, in 581, ordered Advent from St. Martin’s to Christmas-day three Fasting Days a Week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; but the whole Term of forty Days, was observed with a strict Abstinence from Flesh Meat.—Alban Butler

Latin Rite Catholics today may certainly still observe fasting during this time to spiritually prepare themselves for Christmas. Beginning with Vespers on November 15th, the Nativity Fast continues until just before Vespers on Christmas Eve.

As with all periods of fasting, Fasting is forbidden on Sundays. Due to many popular feast days occurring between now and December 9th, many places began to adapt the fast to begin on December 10th. Latin Rite Catholics traditionally already fasted on the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (December 7th) and on the Vigil of the Nativity (December 24th). Those two days should still be observed by Roman Catholics devotionally. In years when these days fall on a Sunday, fasting is suppressed.

The fast's purpose is to spiritually prepare the soul for drawing closer to God. Along with our fasting, we must increase our own prayer life, almsgiving, and good works. Fasting without increased prayer should never be done.

Ask yourself - can you join in this ancient fasting period (aside from Thanksgiving Day and Sundays and the Holy Day of the Immaculate Conception)?

Can you offer this penance for the conversion of sinners as a Christmas present to the Lord?

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Future Posts on A Catholic Life

Enter email address:



Copyright / Disclaimer

Copyright Notice: Unless otherwise stated, all items are copyrighted under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. If you quote from this blog, cite a link to the post on this blog in your article.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”