Thursday, March 31, 2022
Abstinence & Fasting Is Not Automatically Dispensed on Solemnities

Last year I wrote an article entitled "Is Fasting or Abstinence Required on Holy Days of Obligation in Lent?" and unfortunately more Traditional Catholics continue to think that abstinence even on Fridays in Lent is dispensed eo ipso when a solemnity (e.g. Annunciation Day, St. Joseph's Day) falls on a Friday or when a culturally important day (e.g. St. Patrick's Day) occurs on a Friday. Let's review ecclesiastical history on this important point.

The Clear Teaching of the 1917 Code of Canon Law

The question of whether Holy Days of Obligation abrogate the requirement of Friday abstinence outside of Lent is mentioned in the 1917 Code:

"On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or of fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]

The 1917 Code is explicit - feasts of precepts do not remove the requirement to fast or abstain during Lent. The only way that the obligation would be removed during the season of Lent would be if a dispensation would be specifically offered by lawful Church authorities for a particular day.

Historical Evidence Confirms Even Holy Days of Obligation in Lent were not Dispensed Automatically from the Laws of Either Fast or Abstinence

In 1954, Pope Pius XII issued a decree granting bishops the permission to dispense from Friday abstinence for the Feast of St. Joseph which that year fell on a Friday. A March 26, 1954 article in the Guardian elaborates: "Bishops throughout the world have been granted the faculty to dispense their faithful from the law of abstinence on the Feast of St. Joseph, Friday, March 19. The power was granted in a decree issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Council, which said it acted at the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The decree was published in L'Osservatore Romano made no mention of a dispensation from the Lenten fast." 

As such, St. Joseph's Day did not permit the faithful to eat meat on Fridays in Lent unless such a specific dispensation was offered, which was very rarely done. This was also at a time when there were many other fast days in the year outside of Lent. Likewise, to those who maintain the 1917 Code's requirement to also fast all forty weekdays of Lent - which was observed since the Early Church - St. Joseph's Day remains a day of fast. Surely St. Joseph would want us to produce worthy fruits of penance during this holiest season as we prepare for the Pascal mystery. And surely the same can be said of our Lady, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, whose we celebrate each year on March 25th.

Unfortunately, the 1983 Code of Canon Law which aligns with the many modernist changes in the Church weakly states:

"The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday" (1983 Code, Canons 1251 - 1252). 

Dispensations From Abstinence Were Previously Required Even for Holy Days of Obligation Outside of Lent

The notion that a solemnity that is not even a Holy Day of Obligation would trump Friday abstinence in Lent is absurd and a radical departure from all of our traditions. Such a notion comes from 1983 and never beforehand. For instance, even Christmas would in and of itself not dispense Friday abstinence in the Medieval Church as Dom Gueranger writes in the Liturgical Year published in 1886:

"To encourage her children in their Christmas joy, the Church has dispensed with the law of abstinence, if this Feast fall on a Friday. This dispensation was granted by Pope Honorius III, who ascended the Papal Throne in 1216. It is true that we find it mentioned by Pope St Nicholas I, in the ninth century; but the dispensation was not universal; for the Pontiff is replying to the consultations of the Bulgarians, to whom he concedes this indulgence, in order to encourage them to celebrate these Feasts with solemnity and joy: Christmas Day, St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, the Epiphany, the Assumption of our Lady, St John the Baptist, and SS Peter and Paul. When the dispensation for Christmas Day was extended to the whole Church, these other Feasts were not mentioned."

Previously, a dispensation was required by the Holy Father even on Holy Days of Obligation that fell outside of Lent. Two examples indicating this are Pope Leo XIII's 1890 dispensation for Assumption Day and a 1907 dispensation issued for Canada for All Saints Day. All Saints Day was at that time a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada. Read How St. Pius X & the 1917 Code of Canon Law Liberalized Fasting, Abstinence, and Holy Days of Obligation for more information

The Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Pius X's Supremi disciplinæ indicates that fasting was abolished eo ipso only starting in 1911 for all Holy Days of Obligation (which were at the same time reduced to only 8): "The present Motu Proprio institutes another important change in legislation. As feasting and fasting are incompatible Pius X has abolished the obligation of fasting as well as that of abstinence for the Universal Church, should such obligation coincide with any of the eight feasts, as above." In practice, we know that the exception was Lent. Lenten abstinence and fast always remained unless explicitly dispensed from even after the weakening changes in 1911.

Year-Round Friday Abstinence on Solemnities

The principles here apply as well to high-ranking feastdays outside of Lent. In years when non-Holy Days of Obligation (e.g. The Sacred Heart, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul) fall on a Friday, the practice of Friday abstinence should never be ignored. We have a responsibility of doing penance and the shared act of Friday penance is, like Sunday Mass, a cornerstone of the Catholic Faith. Even the 1983 Code calls for year-round Friday penance!

Continue Fasting and Abstaining Both In and Out of Lent

Must we be reminded of the warning of Pope Benedict XIV, who in 1741 warned: "The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe."

There is no incompatibility between fasting and abstaining and celebrating liturgical solemnities. Even Sundays used to be required days of abstinence (but not fast). Let us fast and abstain always on St. Joseph's Day, Annunciation Day, and St. Patrick's Day each year during Lent. Our adherence to and preservation of the Traditional Catholic Faith requires this. 

Latching on to a modernist novelty from 1983 is incompatible with the Traditional Latin Mass and the Traditional Catholic Faith. And let us offer our acts of penance for the conversion of sinners to the Traditional Catholic Faith. There is no prohibition against fasting on solemnities; on the contrary, Tradition requires it.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
The Most and Least Common Catholic Parish Names in the United States

With the increase in parish closures in some dioceses, like the Archdiocese of Chicago, older parishes are regulated to profane use and sold. Other times, parishes merge and while keeping each church open, choose a new parish name. And as time goes on, it is not surprising that new parish names tend to ignore more ancient and forgotten saints - like the many saints who were removed from the General Calendar in 1969.

St. Giles for instance used to be a common name for churches in Europe. That is no longer the case. And the same may be said for many ancient Roman saints. Take for instance the restoration of the Institute of Christ the King in Chicago. Their national headquarters was originally built in 1927 and named for St. Clara. In 1990 it was renamed for St. Galasius shortly before it was closed and subsequently deeded to the Shrine of Christ the King who have renamed it. As for St. Galasius who reigned as Pope from 492 - 496, no parishes in America remain dedicated to him.

After analyzing the more than 13,500 parishes listed in the United States Catholic Directory, I found some interesting statistics:

  • Parishes dedicated to Our Lady, either under one of her titles, one aspect of her life (e.g. her Assumption, Nativity, etc), or under St. Mary, are the most popular parishes. These account for approximately 25.8% of American Catholic parishes
  • Some unique Marian titled parishes include Our Lady of the Plains (1 parish), Our Lady of the Prarie (1 parish), and Our Lady of the Pines (2 parishes)
  • Certain feastdays in the life of Our Lord or Our Lady are more popular than others for names. Examples of various names include Annunciation (26 parishes), Assumption (73 parishes), the Blessed Sacrament (86 parishes), Christ the King (121 parishes), Corpus Christi (67 parishes), Epiphany (20 parishes), and the Holy Rosary (75 parishes).
  • The Holy Trinity (or the Blessed Trinity) is the name of approximately 137 parishes
  • Some unusual parish names include Christ our Light (5 such parishes), Christ of the Desert (1 parish), and Christ on the Mountain (1 parish).
  • There is only one parish named for the Five Holy Martyrs, one parish in honor of the Five Wounds, one parish in honor of the forty martyrs, and one parish named after the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
  • All Saints is the name of 77 parishes, but All Souls is the name of only 6 parishes.
  • When it comes to saints, St. Joseph is one of the most popular after the Blessed Virgin Mary and that shows. There are approximately 777 parishes named after him, amounting to over 5% of all American Parishes. 
  • St. Patrick is also popular with 346 parishes.
  • There are a number of saints who have only a few parishes in America despite their importance. One example is St. Polycarp, who despite being kept on the Universal Calendar, has only 3 parishes named after him. St. Louis Bertrand also has only 3 parishes named after him. By contrast, both St. Gaspar Del Bufalo and St. Eloi, very obscure saints, have 2 parishes named after them.
Some of the least common parish names are in honor of the following saints who have just one parish named after them:

  • St. Caspar
  • St. Colette
  • St. Cronan
  • St. Dunstan 
  • St. Egbert
  • St. Eustachius
  • St. Flannen
  • St. Frederic
  • St. Jarlath
  • St. Pancratius
  • St. Petronille
  • St. Philip Bonitus
  • St. Symphorosa
  • St. Terrence
For those of us who do like reading about the lives of the saints, and who have done so for a while, I think it would be worthwhile to seek out the biographies of some of these more obscure saints. While not as popular anymore, their lives are still useful for our edification and hopefully, we can learn from them and invoke their aid. Even though they are not as popular as St. Joseph or St. Patrick, they do still nevertheless see God now face to face. 

For the full 100 page report, including graphs and charts, please contact me. The full report will be available free of charge to my Patreons.
Friday, March 4, 2022
Early Christians Fasted Even from Water During Lent

The history of the Lenten fast is replete with inspiration for us. Whereas modern man has steadily over the centuries given in to laxities and has abandoned fasting - and prayer and almsgiving too - it is necessary for those Catholics faithful to the Traditions to restore some of the fervor of our forefathers in the Faith. 

To the Early Christians, fasting was performed until sundown, in imitation of the previous Jewish tradition. Dom Gueranger’s writings affirm, “It was the custom with the Jews, in the Old Law, not to take the one meal, allowed on fasting days, till sun-set. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously practiced, for many centuries, even in our Western countries." 

Liquids Broke the Fast In the Early Church

In the early Church, fasting also included abstinence from wine, taking man back to his antediluvian diet before God permitted Noah to eat meat and drink wine. As such, in apostolic times, the main meal was a small one, mainly of bread and vegetables. Fish, but not shellfish, became permitted on days of abstinence around the 6th century. Hence, some Eastern Rites will abstain from meat, animal products, wine, oil, and fish on fasting days which harkens back to these ancient times.

Remarkably, even water was forbidden during fasting times in the very ancient church. Fr. Alban Butler in Moveable Feasts and Fasts provides testimony of this when he writes: 

"St. Fructuosus, the holy bishop of Tarragon in Spain, in the persecution of Valerian in 259, being led to martyrdom on a Friday at ten o'clock in the morning, refused to drink, because it was not the hour to break the fast of the day, though fatigued with imprisonment, and standing in need of strength to sustain the conflict of his last agony. 'It is a fast,' said he: 'I refuse to drink; it is not yet the ninth hour; death itself shall not oblige me to abridge my fast.'"

The Pulpit Orator published in 1884 by Fr. Pustet & Company similarly notes: "That we take only one full meal, Sundays excepted. The Christians of the first ages observed this ecclesiastical ordinance very exactly, after the setting of the sun. Nor did they drink water, unless there was a necessity. A council at Aix-la-Chapelle declares: 'Only when necessity requires it, on account of hard labor or weakness, is it allowed to drink.'"

Father Alban writes elsewhere, "It is undoubted, that anciently to drink on fasting days was no less forbidden than to eat, only in the refection after sunset." The account of St. Fructuosus illustrates that while water would break the fast, water was permitted when the meal was taken later in the evening. This reference to taking the meal after a set time prescribed by the Church would last for centuries, even though it would be moved up ultimately to noon by the 14th century. 

Father Alban also insightfully remarks, "Even the first allowance of a collation, which consisted only of a draught of drink, shows it was not allowed before to drink at all on fasting days before the hour of the meal...The Mahometans, though immersed in sensuality and vice, keep up this essential law in their fasts, which consist in neither eating, nor drinking, nor smoking the whole day, from morning to the rising of the stars in the evening." The custom of fasting even from water was similarly practiced in ancient Judaism.

The American Ecclesiastical Review in a 1938 piece on the Lenten fast notes that in the Early Church, even after water became allowed, liquids other than water would break the fast:

The fast observed in the early Church was much more severe than that of later centuries. The law of fasting did not permit the use of any food earlier than sunset during Lent and not earlier than three o'clock in the afternoon on fast days outside of Lent. Even in St. Thomas's time, the hour for the taking of food was circa horam sextam or noon. The earlier custom prohibited all liquids except water outside the meal, later liquids were allowed according to the principle that they do not break the fast. It was not until the thirteenth century that the custom of taking a little food such as fruit bread salad and the like in the evening was introduced. This refection received the name of collation apparently from the Collations of Cassian usually read by the monks at this repast. The frustulum or small quantity of food allowed in the morning is a practice of comparatively recent origin. Only when we consider the rigor of fasting as practised by our forefathers in the Faith can we appreciate the indulgence that the Church has accorded Catholics in this age.

Water Broke the Eucharistic Fast Until 1953

The final vestige of abstaining from even water was in the form of the Eucharistic fast leading up to the reception of Holy Communion. This was changed by Pope Pius XII on January 6, 1953, in Christus Dominus, which stated: “In the future, it shall be a general and common principle for all, both priests and faithful, that natural water does not break the Eucharistic fast.” Further changes were introduced on March 25, 1957, in Sacram Communionem by Pope Pius XII again. While legislating on a number of finer details, as a whole, Pope Pius XII’s legislation mitigated the fast to be for three hours before Holy Communion from all solid food and all alcoholic beverages. Nonalcoholic beverages were subject to a one hour fast, though water was permitted at any time as stated in Christus Dominus. Those old enough to remember Masses before 1953 may recall that Catholic schools would cover the drinking fountains until after Holy Mass had ended.


While this practice of abstaining from liquids may not be something we want to practice this Lent, it is worthwhile to consider for the sake of inspiration the remarkable discipline that Early Christians kept in the Lenten fast. And we too can keep an austere Lent this year by retaining some of the practices kept by our forefathers in the Early and/or Medieval Church.

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


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