Monday, June 8, 2020
The Apostles Fast

The observance of a fast leading up to the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul also likely originated in the Early Church by the time of Pope St. Leo the Great around the year 461.  While it subsequently fell out of observance in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Church still observes this fast to some extent.

The Roman Catholic Church though maintained the summer Ember Days during this time, in addition to the traditional fast on the Vigil of Sts. Peter and Paul, until modern times. The Vigil of Ss. Peter and Paul was kept as a fast day until 1917. As a result, only a fragment of the fasting that was formerly practiced persisted in the Roman Rite.

Fr. R. Janin summarizes the Traditional Byzantine Fast and Abstinence observance for the Apostles Fast:
This varies from 9 to 42 days depending on the feast of Easter. It begins on the first Monday after Pentecost until the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. This Lent has the same rules as Great Lent but oil and fish are tolerated (in some places) except on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Even in the Eastern Churches, there is a little divergence on the date when the Fast begins. The Coptic and Old Syrian traditions keep the fast on the First Monday after Pentecost (as noted above), yet in the current Byzantine tradition, the fast begins on the Second Monday after Pentecost (i.e., the day following All Saints Sunday in their calendar).

Now that we Roman Catholics have completed the Octave of Pentecost, we can continue our Ember Day fasts through the Vigil of Ss. Peter and Paul as voluntary penance in order to better prepare for the great feast of Ss. Peter and Paul and to offer up our fast for good and holy priests. We often forget that Ss. Peter and Paul is a Holy Day of Obligation on the Universal Calendar, and it was observed as a Holy Day of Obligation in America up until 1840. Only by adequately preparing for this feastday can we appreciate the importance of this and all of the feasts of the Apostles.

Let us pray:

Preserve us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers of soul and body: and by the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, the ever Virgin-Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul and of all the saints, grant us, in thy mercy, health and peace; that all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may serve thee with undisturbed liberty.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

1 comment(s):

del_button June 3, 2023 at 7:20 PM
Stephen said...

Thank you brother. I'm looking to start this fast tomorrow.

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