Questions and Answers about Lent and Lenten Practices

Q. Why do we say that there are forty days of Lent? When you count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46.

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.

Q. So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?

A. 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.

Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat. Does meat include chicken and dairy products?

A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

Q. I’ve noticed that restaurants and grocery stores advertise specials on expensive types of fish and seafood on Fridays during Lent. Some of my Catholic friends take advantage of these deals, but somehow I don’t feel right treating myself to the lobster special on Fridays during Lent.Read More »


Saint John of God

Saint John of God was born João Duarte Cidade (Portuguese form, the Spanish form is João Cidade Duarte) in Montemor-o-Novo, now in the District of Évora, Kingdom of Portugal, the son of André Cidade and Teresa Duarte, a once-prominent family that was impoverished but had great religious faith. One day, he heard a visiting Spanish priest speak of adventures in the new world with the discovery of America. That very night he ran away from home to travel with the priest and never saw his parents again. According to his original biography, his mother died from grief soon after this and his father joined the Franciscan Order.

The young João soon found himself a homeless orphan in the streets of Oropesa, near Toledo, Spain. There, in a foreign land, he had no one to care for him, nothing on which to live and he had to be content with whatever food he could find. He was eventually taken in by a man called Francisco Mayoral and the boy settled down as a shepherd caring for his sheep in the countryside until he was 27.

The farmer was so pleased with João’s strength and diligence that he wanted him to marry his daughter and to become his heir. Feeling pressure to marry the manager’s daughter, whom he loved as a sister, João left to join the Spanish army in the war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day he was accused of being involved in the theft. He was condemned to death, and that would have been his fate had not some more tolerant officer intervened to win his pardon.Read More »

“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.”

“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas

#MoralStory: Dealing With Snake

We are often tempted by material things, opportunities, and possibilities of contemporary life – items that we generally know will only lead us away from God. The choice to avoid such temptations is ours and, thus, we must be wary of their allure.

A Native American folk tale describes this problem: One day an Indian youth, in an effort to prepare for manhood, hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees and decorated with many lovely flowers. There he fasted and prayed, but on the third day he looked up at the surrounding mountains and noticed one tall and rugged peak capped with snow. He decided that he would test himself by climbing this mountain. Thus, he put on his buckskin shirt, wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, and set out to climb the peak.

When he reached the top he looked out from the rim to the world so far below. Then he heard a rustling sound and, looking around, saw a snake slithering about. Before he could move, the snake spoke to him, “I am about to die. It’s too cold for me up here; I am freezing. There is little food and I am starving. Please put me under your shirt where I will be warm and take me down the mountain.” Read More »

Save Your People


Save your people, O Lord!
Show us the way to come home
We have been wandering far from your love
Save your people, O Lord!

One thing I ask, O Lord, this I seek:
To dwell forever in your house
That I may gaze on your loveliness
All the days of my life

Save your people, O Lord!
Show us the way to come home
We have been wandering far from your love
Save your people, O Lord!

For you will hide me in the shelter of your wings
And from the arrows of my foes
You set me high on a mountain top
Saved me from my distress

Save your people, O Lord!
Show us the way to come home
We have been wandering far from your love
Save your people, O Lord!

*Read More »

#ShortNews: 700 churches closed in Rwanda

Rwanda has ordered 700 churches in Kigali Province to suspend activities from today (1 March) because of concerns over health and safety.

Professor Anastase Shyaka, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), which monitors public and private organisations, told reporters on 19 February: “Some churches conduct their worship services in shoddy and unclean structures – to the detriment of people’s health and safety. Cases of noise pollution have also been reported, while some operate without the required operation permits.”

Church representatives said the authorities were being too strict. “Those that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised,” said Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, president of the Churches’ Forum in Nyarugenge district, as reported by AFP.

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#ShortNews: Catholic men’s movements are on the rise

The rise in men’s movements within the Church is both a reaction to cultural confusion and a support and formation for what it means to be a man of God. The Church teaches the complementarity of men and women, the idea of different strengths, perspectives and roles, while advocating for the equal worth and dignity of both. There is a natural strength in relationships when lived out in union with God. Women can wholeheartedly support Catholic men’s programs because they are about men becoming Christlike for the benefit of their wives, children and communities.

Sam Guzman said, being a Catholic gentleman means that you are faithful and a man of virtue. “We must practice things like self-control, honesty and self-discipline,” he said. “We find that the happiest people are the holiest people.” Guzman points out that we have daily opportunities to choose between selfishness and selflessness and to follow Christ, which is what being a Catholic gentleman is about.

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Read more about how to be a Catholic Gentleman: