Sunday, December 31, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 46

In today’s episode, on the Sunday within the Octave of our Lord's Nativity, I address the following: 

  1. Feastdays This Week: St. Sylvester, Feast of the Circumcision, the Holy Name, and More
  2. Indulgences for New Year's Eve and Day
  3. The Forgotten Vigil of the Epiphany
  4. The Traditions of Epiphanytide
  5. Why Catholics Are Not Modern Pharisees

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers in Latin conveniently on the go. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. offers prayer cards in various formats, including Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Shop for additional Latin resources like missal booklets, server response cards, and more. Visit today.

Subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I-tunes, and many other platforms!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Each year, I have made what I call "Catholic Resolutions."  These New Year's Resolutions are not centered on losing weight, eating more vegetables, or securing a raise. I make resolutions for all facets of my life, including these.  Rather, these resolutions each year are centered around my spiritual life.  I encourage all of you to make resolutions specifically geared toward improving your own Faith life and your own knowledge of the Faith.  One's spiritual health needs the same care - if not more - than our physical, financial, or professional health.

Ask yourself:
  1. Do I know the Faith that I profess to believe in?  If not, how can I learn more?  For example, has an ideal Adult Course just for this purpose.
  2. Am I truly living a Catholic life?  Am I learning more prayers?  Am I helping others to learn the Faith and live it out?  Do I regularly receive the Sacraments?
  3. Do you struggle with certain sins or addictions? What actions do I need to take to really conquer them?
  4. Do you need to make more donations to Catholic organizations or pro-life charities?
  5. What is my dominant fault, and how can I tackle it and grow in virtues?
  6. What additional days of penance can you observe as days of fasting and abstinence? Can you observe the vigils of the apostles as fast days? What about all 40 days of Lent or the 40 days leading up to Christmas? Will you keep all days of Lent including Sundays as day of abstinence? There are many venerable ways we can practice penance this year and fulfill our Lady's call for "Penance, penance, penance." See the 2024 Catholic Fasting Calendar for ideas.
This is the time of year to truly set Catholic Resolutions, which will have eternal repercussions. Now is the time to actually make true and lasting Catholic Resolutions for the new year.

Some General Suggestions of Catholic Resolutions:
  1. Pray the Rosary every day, if you are out of the habit of it
  2. Pray Lauds, Vespers, and Compline (from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Divine Office) every day.
  3. Say a prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory every day, such as the St Gertrude Prayer. Getting a copy of The Purgatorian Manual: Containing Spiritual Reading and Prayers for Every Day of the Month is also an excellent idea.
  4. Attend Mass one day extra a week in addition to Sunday. And if you have fallen away from Mass, start going weekly again.
  5. Make it a habit to go to Confession every 2 weeks. Ensure that you are sincere and actually detest your sins and desire to amend your life.
  6. Fulfill the First Friday Devotion as well as the First Saturday Devotion.
  7. Start wearing the Brown Scapular if you do not already. But ensure you are properly enrolled by a priest.
  8. Determine what is your predominant fault and make a plan to fight it and conquer it this next year.
  9. Make time for a morning meditation and mental prayer each and every day before work.
  10. Identify one virtue to acquire and one vice to conquer this year. Make an action plan for how you will actually make progress on a daily and weekly basis to do so.
  11. Make it a point to learn much more about the Faith. For example, has an ideal Adult Course just for this purpose.
  12. Add additional days of penance in the form of fasting and abstinence and adopt the traditional suggestions in the 2024 Catholic Fasting Calendar.
I encourage you to make Catholic Resolutions. What are yours? Share them below in the comments box.
Tuesday, December 26, 2023
2024 Patron Saint of the Year Devotion

UPDATE: RESULTS ARE IN.  SCROLL DOWN.  i received St. Ebontius, Bishop of Babastro, Spain, after its recapture from the Moors. Born in Comminges, Haute Garonne, France, he became a Benedictine and abbot before accepting the see of Babastro.

SPONSOR: This Devotion is being sponsored again this year by  Whether you are looking for godparent preparation courses, Sacramental preparation for your children, or just to better learn the Faith as an adult, has courses for all ages and walks of life. Check out's affordable programs and make it a New Year's resolution to learn and live the Faith better than ever.

You can read about the past devotions in the following posts:
Again, I would like to take a few minutes to explain the devotion.

What is the Saint for the Year Devotion?  We pray that this year the Holy Ghost will again work so that all participants receive a saint that they will be able to pray to for aid throughout the entire year: St. Faustina wrote about it in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. The excerpt is below.
“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year's Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn't read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 - the  Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.”Excerpt from Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Faustina"

Over the years, I've heard from many people of the great connection they have to their special patrons. Here is one of those stories from the past: 

I have Saints Marcus and Marcellianus ... they are twin brothers who were sent to prison before their death. St. Sebastian visited them continually in prison and helped keep their faith alive. They are buried near St. Felix and are specifically honored in Spain. OK now ... here are a couple of immediate ironies in regard to these saints ... I have a SPECIAL place in my heart for twins! As a child, I LOVED reading the story about St. Sebastian. I had a children's book of saints and I think I wore out the pages on St. Sebastian! Felix is my grandfather's name! Silvia, our exchange student, is from Spain! I am so excited to have these two saints to walk through 2006 with me! I'm looking forward as to where and how they will intercede for me.
How do I enter?  I will pull names for everyone who is a Patreon of this blog. You may submit up to 10 names for each Patreon, allowing you to have names drawn for your family and friends. The drawing will happen automatically for all who are patrons at any paid level. Sign up on Patreon for any paid level to support this blog, and you will be included. Unfortunately, due to the significant time investment I put into this devotion and many other responsibilities, I will only be able to do so for my Patreon supporters.

When will the saints be drawn?  This year, I will start the drawing of saints on the morning of the Feast of the Circumcision and the Octave Day of Christmas (i.e., January 1st). Drawings will occur as the Litany of Saints is recited.  That means results will likely be commented and/or messaged to Patreons by the late afternoon (US Central Time) on January 1st. This will be the only drawing this year. 

Please pass this message on through your blogs and/or email distribution lists, letting all of the Catholic Blogsphere have the chance to participate.


Name Saint
Anna St. William of Pontoise
Vincent St. Valentine of Rome
Jaime St. Ennodius
AuliyaMarie St. Hitto of Saint-Gall
JL St. Crispina
Julio Blessed Maria Bartholomew
CTC St. Mark the Evangelist
JWC St. Daniel the Prophet
SEC St. Cloud
ABR St. Tironensian Order
SRR St. Simeon-Francois Berneux
RAR St. Charles Borromeo
MHC St. Paul the first hermit
JDC St. Catherine of Genoa
JT The Martyrs of Hayle
ZR St. Henry II
Randy St. Simeon, Bishop and Martyr
Kimberly St. Joseph the foster Father of Jesus Christ
Tom St. Abraham, father of Isaac
Gina Blessed Anthony of Pavonio
Tucker St. Jerome
Mother Mary Paul St. Lambert of Vence
Sr Mary Agnes St. Aderald
Jake St. Gemma Galgani
Emily St. Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena
Nick Pope St. Pius V
Mary St. Marguerite Bourgeois
Kristen Blessed Odo of Beauvais
Cheyanne Pope St. Pius X
Carolyn St. Anthony Zaccaria
Paul St. Rufino
Amelia Blessed William Andleby
CcKenna St. Aderald
Kenli St. Aventinus of Tours
Steven St. Peter Fourier
JoAnn St. Cosmas
Stephen St. Rene Goupil
Bernadette St. Stephen of Mar Saba
Erin St. Bruno
Kevin Blessed Terence
Niamh Our Lady of the Rosary
Malachy St. George
Mulreann St. Edward the King
Sean St. Alexander the martyr
Michael St. Bernard of Thiron
Jesse St. Meneve
Jen St. Theophilus of Corte
Chris St. Thomas More
Ryan Blessed Andre de Soveral
Libby Blessed Herman the Cripple
Noah Blessed Henry
Bella Blessed Josefa Naval Girbes
Tim W St. Quintus the Thaumaturge
John D St. Estelle
Xavier St. Louise de Marillac
Griffin St. Charles Garnier
Elijah St. Artaldus
James St. Adelelmus of Flanders
Max St. Irenaeus of Lyons
Jacob St. Conon, Bishop of the Isle of Man
Christopher Blessed Sadoc and Companions
Christian C Blessed Villana
Gabriel St. Adelin of Seez

If you are not familiar with your saint, I encourage you to research online and even pick up a copy of Father Hugo Hoever's "Live of the Saints," which I read daily.  While the book does not include saints canonized in recent years, it is something that I highly recommend.

Here is a prayer to honor any saint:
Sunday, December 24, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 45

In today’s episode, on the 4th Sunday of Advent, I address the following: 

  1. Midnight Mass & the Traditional Eucharistic Fast
  2. Indulgences for Praying the Divine Office on Christmas Day
  3. The Companions of Christ (Dec 26, 27, and 28) as Holy Days of Obligation
  4. Christmas Compilation of Articles, Sermons, and Prayers
  5. Friday in the Octave of Christmas Is Still Required Abstinence

I would like to thank for sponsoring this episode. My Catholic Will provides simple and effective tools to pass on the heritage of faith and positively impact future generations of Catholics across the country. Ensure your legacy and family are protected while also leaving behind a way to support the Church. Use discount code catholiclife20 to save on your order.

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Thursday, December 21, 2023
Abstinence is Still Obligatory on Friday in the Octave of Christmas

As a reminder, the Friday in the Octave of Christmas is still an obligatory day of abstinence. As Catholics, we are still bound to abstain from meat each Friday in the entire year, not just in Lent. 

Abstinence Traditionally Required on the Friday in the Octave of Christmas

The 1917 Code of Canon Law stipulated that the requirement to abstain from meat (i.e. Friday penance) was required each and every Friday of the year unless that particular Friday was a Holy Day of Obligation:

"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 introduced the radical notion that a Holy Day of Obligation would eo ipso overrule the requirement of Friday abstinence for any Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent. Previously the only day that would automatically abrogate the requirement of Friday abstinence was Christmas Day (December 25th) whose exception went back only to 1216 AD. Before the time of St. Pius X, a dispensation was required by the Holy Father to dispense from Friday abstinence on any other Holy Day of Obligation.

Friday in the Octave of our Lord's Nativity is not a feast of precept (i.e., a Holy Day of Obligation). While Feastdays of the Comites used to be Holy Days of Obligation, and while even St. Thomas Becket's Day was one of obligation in England in times past, they are no longer days of obligation. The 1917 Code of Canon Law outlined the rules of fasting and abstinence in Canons 1250-1254.

Abstinence Is Even Required on the Friday in the Octave of Christmas Per the 1983 Code

The 1983 Code and the myriad of weakening dispensations offered between 1917 and the present have led to a continual decline in penance and devotion. But even these weakened post-Vatican II Code did not change Friday in the Octave of Christmas to be one that permitted meat. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) issued a statement on November 18, 1966, where abstinence was made obligatory on all Fridays of Lent, except Solemnities (i.e., First Class Feasts), on Ash Wednesday, and on Good Friday. Friday in the Octave of the Nativity is not a solemnity. So even the weakened Code 1251 still obliges abstinence:

Can. 1251 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.

Prayer to Infant Jesus of Prague By Venerable Father Cyril, OCD:

O Divine Infant Jesus, I have recourse to Thee. Please through Thy Blessed Mother, assist me in this necessity… mention intention… because I firmly believe that Thy Divinity can help me. I hope with confidence to obtain Thy holy grace. I love Thee with all my heart and with all the strength of my soul. 

I repent sincerely of my sins and I beg Thee, O Good Jesus, to grant me the strength to triumph over them. I resolve never more to offend Thee and I come to offer myself to Thee with the intention of enduring everything, rather than to displease Thee. Henceforth, I desire to serve Thee with fidelity and, for the love of Thee, O Divine Infant, I will love my neighbour as myself.

All powerful Infant, O Jesus, I implore Thee again, assist me in this need. Grant me the grace of possessing Thee eternally with Mary and Joseph and of adoring Thee with the angels in the Heavenly Court. 


Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Advent Embertide & the Golden Mass

The Gospel from Ember Wednesday is also the Gospel during the Advent Rorate Mass

Ember Days this Advent: December 20, 22, and 23

If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray additional prayers. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and abstinence. Please click here for a special PDF Ember Day Manual, including reflections for the Advent Ember Days.

Note, while most Missals call for Ember Wednesday and Ember Saturday to be a day of partial abstinence, this is a rather modern practice. Partial Abstinence refers to eating meat only at the principal meal of the day and 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 & as part of a gradual decline of fasting. It is better to keep all Ember Days as days of complete abstinence. Ember Fridays of course are in all Missals days of complete abstinence.

From Angelus Press Daily Missal:

At the beginning of the four seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year, the Ember Days have been instituted by the Church to thank God for blessings obtained during the past year and to implore further graces for the new season. Their importance in the Church was formerly very great. They are fixed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: after the First Sunday of Lent for spring, after Pentecost Sunday for summer, after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September) for autumn, and after the Third Sunday of Advent for winter. They are intended, too, to consecrate to God the various seasons in nature, and to prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained. Ordinations generally take place on the Ember Days. The faithful ought to pray on these days for good priests. The Ember Days were until c. 1960 fastdays of obligation.

Ember Wednesday of Advent is known as the Golden Mass, which is the first time in the temporal cycle of the Liturgical Year when the Annunciation is read as the Gospel. The New Liturgical Movement states:

On this day, the Church reads the Gospel of the Annunciation (Luke 1, 26-38), at which point, the beginning of mankind’s redemption, the story begins to move forward. On Friday, there follows the Gospel of the Visitation. (Luke 1, 39-47) In the Breviary homily of that day, Saint Ambrose calls to our attention the first meeting of the Word Incarnate with His Forerunner, while both are still in their mothers’ wombs; “We must consider the fact that the greater one comes to the lesser, that the lesser may be aided: Mary to Elisabeth, Christ to John.” Having announced the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Visitation, the Church then anticipates on Ember Saturday the Gospel of the followed day, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. In the three Ember Day Gospels together, therefore, God becomes Incarnate, goes to the last of His prophets, and sends him forth “to prepare His way.”

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Sunday, December 17, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 44


In today’s episode, on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, I address the following: 

  1. Gaudete Sunday
  2. The O Antiphons
  3. Upcoming Ember Days of Advent
  4. The Vigil and Feast of St. Thomas
  5. Restoring Customs of Christendom

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers in Latin conveniently on the go. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. offers prayer cards in various formats, including Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Shop for additional Latin resources like missal booklets, server response cards, and more. Visit today.

Subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I-tunes, and many other platforms!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom

"The best advice that I can give you is this: Church traditions - especially when they do not run counter to the faith - are to be observed in the form in which previous generations have handed them down...the traditions which have been handed down should be regarded as apostolic laws" (St. Jerome in Letter 71)

I'm honored to announce the publication of the latest book by Our Lady of Victory Press entitled "Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom."


Under the Old Testament laws, God’s people observed annual ceremonies commemorating important events in salvation history which prefigured the completion of the Old Law through Christ. Similarly, Holy Church commemorates important mysteries, events, and persons, using an annual cycle of prayers, Scriptures, hymns, and various spiritual disciplines. In the same way, each of the twelve months has a unique focus, and each day of the week has a unique focus as well. Even in the day, the hours of the day are divided up into canonical hours. In so doing, all time is, in a manner of speaking, consecrated to God since He alone created all time and redeemed all of time.

Unlike the pagan religions which often view time as an endless cycle of death and rebirth, the Christian view of time is linear. While God alone has always existed and has no beginning, time had a beginning. There was a first day on earth. And there will be a last day. There will be a day ultimately when the sun will rise for the last time and when it will set for the last time. Time will end. And God Himself will end it as time belongs to Him. It is our duty to honor God in time. And we can do so by sanctifying the days, weeks, months, and seasons of the year.

The Church’s Liturgical Year is a harmonious interplay of feasts and fasts interwoven in both the temporal and sanctoral cycles that define the rhythm and rhyme of Catholic life. While there are many customs associated with the seasons of the liturgical year and high ranking feast days, the entire year is replete with opportunities to live out our Catholic heritage through the customs our forefathers instituted.

The Church’s annual liturgical calendar is comprised of two different, concurrent annual cycles. First, the Proper of the Seasons, or Temporal Cycle, traces the earthly life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Roman Catholic Church, it consists mainly of Sundays related to the various liturgical seasons – that is, the seven liturgical seasons contained in two cycles of its own: the Christmas Cycle and the Easter Cycle. It starts with Advent then goes through Christmas, Epiphany, Septuagesima, Lent, Easter, and Time after Pentecost. The determination of the date of Easter dictates nearly all the other dates in this cycle. But there is a second cycle: the Proper of the Saints, called the Sanctoral Cycle, which is the annual cycle of feast days not necessarily connected with the seasons.

It’s also important to realize that each rite in the Catholic Church (e.g., Roman, Maronite, Chaldean, etc.) has its own liturgical calendar, and some have multiple uses or forms of the calendar. Even within the same use or form, there are variations according to local customs. For instance, the patron saint of a church or of the cathedral would be ranked higher in the liturgical calendar of that local jurisdiction. Even in the Roman Rite itself, different dioceses, countries, and religious orders would keep some different feastdays. These were listed in the Mass in Some Places (pro aliquibus locis) supplement to the Missal. Beyond the Roman Rite, the Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Lyon, and Bragan Rites are also all part of the Western liturgical tradition. So too are the various Rites for religious orders (e.g., the Carmelite Rite, the Carthusian Rite, the Dominican Rite). These are also part of the Roman Catholic Church.  No one has ever doubted the legitimacy of this liturgical diversity. 

Those who try to discredit the Traditional Latin Mass may try to falsely claim that all Catholics must observe the same calendar of saints. But this is not the case as seen in the liturgical calendar diversity in the different Rites of the Church and in the Roman Rite itself. Even Summorum Pontificium affirmed that the continued use of the older Roman calendar in the traditional Mass and Breviary is permissible. 

Beyond assisting at Mass and praying the Divine Office, we can and should observe the forgotten customs that further underscored authentic Catholic culture. Catholic culture is more than just going to Mass – much more. Catholic culture is built on fasting periods, assisting at Processions, having various items blessed at different parts of the year (e.g. herbs on August 15, grapes on September 8th, wine on December 27th). It features days of festivity like during Martinmas and promotes family time and charitable works like visits to grandparents on Easter Monday. It is replete with food customs to celebrate the end of fasting periods and filled with special devotions during periods of penance. It is our heritage. These traditions are our birthright. They are ours as much as they were our ancestors. We must reclaim them. We must spread them. We must love them and observe them. And this book will show today’s Catholic how.

Ordering Information:




The PDF is free for Patreon supporters at the All-Star Level.


"In past ages, the lives of Catholics were studded with joyful celebrations of saints and somber calls to penance. The ebb and flow of feasting and fasting gave the Christian religion a distinctive 'thickness' and 'texture': it wasn't a bunch of ideas floating in the clouds but a daily planner filled with concrete actions. In the heady rationalism and hearty optimism that gripped modern reformers, nearly all of this holistic ecosystem was overthrown, and the loss of it meant far more than the loss of parties or Lenten recipes; it meant, for too many, the loss of any relevance of faith to everyday life. What is a Catholic to do in this desert of deprivation? Simple: follow a knowledgeable guide out of it. In this informative book, Matthew Plese, who has devoted himself to studying and living the traditional calendar, takes us step by step through some of the most important 'lost customs of Christendom.' Restoring them, here and there, one by one, we restore ourselves and our families to all that Catholic life can be." 

– Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski, author of The Once and Future Roman Rite

“As a patriarch of a veritable battalion of nine offspring, navigating the tumultuous seas of modernity while striving to anchor them in the resolute harbor of the rich tradition of Catholicism, I recently encountered a literary beacon: ‘Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom’ by Matthew R. Plese. This tome, akin to a cartographer's detailed map, guides the wayward traveler back to the almost-forgotten lands of Catholic tradition and custom.

“The author, acting as a sagacious chronicler, delves into the labyrinthine depths of the liturgical calendar, illuminating each corner with historical acumen and practical sagacity. From the expectant quietude of Advent to the jubilant alleluias of Easter, the book resurrects these sacred temporal landmarks, imbuing them with a vividness that resonates profoundly within the familial sanctum.

“In the grand tapestry of Catholic tradition, Plese weaves a narrative that is both grandiloquent and approachable, making the monumental task of integrating these customs into the bustling life of a large family seem not only possible but imperative. The book transcends mere observation of rites; it is an exhortation to breathe life into them, to ensconce them in the everyday, thus fortifying the bulwarks of faith against the relentless siege of secularism.

“The tome's exploration of penance, prayer, and liturgical understanding is nothing short of an intellectual banquet, offering a sumptuous feast of theological and spiritual insight. As a father, tasked with the arduous challenge of instilling unshakeable faith in my progeny, I found in these pages a clarion call to elevate our daily practices from the mundane to the celestial.

“In conclusion, ‘Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom’ is not merely a book; it is a clarion call to arms for those of us who dare to combat the insidious creep of modernity with the sword and shield of tradition. It is a lantern in the dark, guiding families like mine to not only remember but to relive and reinvigorate the glorious traditions of our faith. For those intrepid souls seeking to traverse the narrow path of tradition in a world enamored with the broad highways of modernism, this tome is an indispensable companion.” 

– Keith Jones, Director and Producer of “Foundations Restored: A Catholic Perspective on Origins

“Catholics who want to integrate the Catholic customs of ages past will deeply appreciate Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom. Beginning with Advent and continuing through the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year, this complete compendium of Catholic traditions by Matthew Plese will help integrate the ancient traditions of our faith in our families and homes. This treasured volume presents the fasts and feasts, the indulgences and blessings which are the patrimony of our Catholic people.” 

 – Fr. Scott A. Haynes of

Sunday, December 10, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 43

In today’s episode, on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, I address the following: 

  1. The Upcoming Feastdays this week
  2. The Pledge Against Indecent Films
  3. Was the Blessed Virgin Mary An Unwed Mother? 

I would like to thank for sponsoring this episode., the leader in online Catholic catechism classes, has everything from online K-12 programs, RCIA classes, adult continuing education, marriage preparation, baptism preparation, confirmation prep, quince prep classes, catechist training courses, and more. It is never too late to study the fullness of the Catholic Faith, and is the gold standard in authentic Catholic formation online. Check out their special Advent Study Course now available for 25% off with discount code ADVENT25.

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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Is Friday Abstinence Required When the Immaculate Conception Falls on a Friday?

Pope Pius IX Proclaims the Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception As A Holy Day of Obligation

The first catalog of Holy Days comes from the Decree of Gratian in c. 1150 AD, which shortly thereafter gave way to Decretals of Pope Gregory IX in 1234, which listed 45 Holy Days.

In 1642, His Holiness Pope Urban VIII issued the papal bull Universa Per Orbem which mandated the required Holy Days of Obligation for the Universal Church to consist of 34 days as well as the principal patrons of one's one locality (e.g. city and country). Those days were the Nativity of Our Lord, the Circumcision of Our Lord, the Epiphany of Our Lord, Monday within the Octave of the Resurrection, Tuesday within the Octave of the Resurrection, Ascension Thursday, Monday within the Octave of Pentecost, Tuesday within the Octave of Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Finding of the Holy Cross, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Dedication of St. Michael, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John (the December feast day), St. Thomas, SS. Philip and James, St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew, SS. Simon and Jude, St. Matthias, St. Stephen the First Martyr (the December feast day), the Holy Innocents, St. Lawrence, St. Sylvester, St. Joseph, St. Anne, and All Saints.  

Originally referred to as the "Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary," the Feast of the Immaculate Conception became a Holy Day of Obligation in 1708 under Pope Clement XI, nearly 150 years before Pope Pius IX dogmatically and infallibly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This day thus joined the list of Universal Days from 1642, although no places observed all such days. In fact, most places observed far fewer days.

Is Friday Abstinence Required When the Immaculate Conception Falls on a Friday?

Since tomorrow is a Friday and is a Holy Day of Obligation in honor of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, a question arises on whether abstinence is obligatory tomorrow. The answer, as clearly stated in the 1917 Code, is as follows:

"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]

As the Immaculate Conception falls outside of Lent, tomorrow is not a day of mandatory abstinence. However, this was actually a change from the practice observed for well over 1,000 years.

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

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.

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 outside of Lent (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." 

We are also still in the midst of St. Martin's Lent, the ancient Nativity Fast, which is observed to prepare for Christmas. Thus, while eating meat tomorrow is not a sin, it would be meritorious to continue to observe Friday abstinence in honor of the nearly 1,800 tradition that preceded the 1917 Code and in observance of St. Martin's Lent. If we choose to do so, let us offer it up through our Lady's intercession for the conversion of sinners who violate the laws of the Church and do not attend Holy Mass on days of precept like the Immaculate Conception.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Sunday, December 3, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 42

In today’s episode, on the First Sunday of Advent, I address the following: 

  1. Advent Customs & Advent as a Season of Penance
  2. The Upcoming Feastdays this week
  3. The Importance of Fasting on the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception
  4. The Connection Between the Messages of Our Lady of Akita and Our Lady of Fatima

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers in Latin conveniently on the go. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. offers prayer cards in various formats, including Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Shop for additional Latin resources like missal booklets, server response cards, and more. Visit today.

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