Remember that post I wrote yesterday? The one about how we can't ALL be right about Sundays in Lent?
Well, I was right about that part.
But, as it turns out, much of the rest of it was wrong.
I researched that post by consulting faithful Catholic websites, and actually reading actual papal encyclicals. (Despite that background. Seriously, Vatican, do you want us to go blind?)
All the information I found indicated that fasting from food wasn't required or considered acceptable on Sundays, even during Lent. Not being able to find primary sources that referred to other voluntary Lenten disciplines, I extrapolated to apply the food policies to other fasts.
Except there ARE primary sources that directly address this exact issue. From the USCCB no less.
A. It might be more accurate to say that there is the "forty day fast within Lent." Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days. The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.
Thank you to Becky for sharing the link in the comments.Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent. These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.
So, there you have it. Although it does say it's up to an individual to decide, I feel like I, personally, would have to have a very good reason for going against the recommendation of the bishops.
We haven't told the kids yet. But tonight's screening of The Prince of Egypt will be our last movie night of Lent. (Thank goodness it was really, really good. And thanks to Jessica for the recommendation.)
As Ashley Sue recommended in the comments of my earlier post, we will find ways to celebrate the joy of Sundays in Lent without breaking our traditional family disciplines of giving up treats and television.
If you broke your Lenten disciplines on my recommendation this Sunday, please accept my sincere apologies. I'll do the penance for all of us.
I'll close with a quote from the speech my son Jack gave at our parkday's Great American Speeches Pageant:
I've changed my opinion on this. I'm sorry for any confusion or inconvenience I've caused. If you shared my earlier post, I ask that you would do so again with this one.I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.
p.s. I agree with many of you who have said that the bishops' recommendations seem to leave a lot of wiggle room. Absolutely they do. But . . . If they had said, for instance, "cigarettes" I would think, "yes, those are addictive, you wouldn't want to have those on Sunday." If they had said "swearing" I would think, "yes, that's in poor taste, we shouldn't take that back up on Sunday." But they say "candy," which is pretty much exactly what WE have been indulging in on Sundays at my house. I have written to the USCCB for clarification, and hope to hear back soon. But, until I do, we're going to err on the side of caution. Unfortunately.
I've been in contact with the very wise Scott P. Richert of the About.com Catholic page. He advises me that my first post, and his About.com posts AND the USCCB post can all coexist. Also, that the USCCB page was not written by a bishop, but rather an employee of the bishops, so my concern about obedience to the bishops is not an issue. Anyway, this has all been an interesting exercise. I never did hear back from the USCCB about my concerns, but I feel confident again in the position I endorsed in my original post. Whew.