Lenten penitential regulations

The annual observance of Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter. Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the rite of election, the scrutinies, and catechesis. The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through the spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.”
— Ceremonial of Bishops, 249

The current discipline is as follows:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. That is, limited to a single, full meal and abstinence from meat.
  • The other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
  • The law of fasting permits only one full meal a day, but it does allow the taking of some food in the morning and a second light meal at noon, or in the evening, as you prefer. Persons from 18 years of age to 59 years of age are obligated to fast.
  • The law of abstinence from meat applies to all persons who have completed their 14th year of age. However, it is highly recommended that children from ages 7 to 14 years also follow the law of abstinence.
  • All Catholics are encouraged to receive the Holy Eucharist frequently during Lent and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that all may be prepared to celebrate more fully the paschal mystery at Easter.

The determination of these days of obligatory penance, as listed above, should not be understood as limiting the occasions for Christian penance. This penance is to help us see and shorten the distance between our present lives and the life God wants for each of us.

“Penance should not be only internal and individual but external and social” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #110).

Given at the Chancery
St. Cloud, Minnesota
January 4, 2021

Note: In a Feb. 11 letter to priests of the diocese, Bishop Donald Kettler noted that if a person is ill for any reason or taking care of someone who is, they are dispensed from Lenten disciplines and sacrifices. The illness and care a person is providing are their Lenten sacrifice.

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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