Tomorrow Lent begins, and I can guarantee there is one question I will field frequently: are we permitted to have whatever we gave up for Lent on Sundays of Lent? I can’t give you an absolute “yes” or “no” answer. In ancient times it was permitted because Lenten fasts were severe: forty days of abstinence not only from meat but also from most other foods as well, so Sunday was a necessary break for physical survival. Today, our penances tend to be far less severe, so taking a break on Sunday is not necessary for our survival. There is no official church teaching on the matter, but there are two different schools of thought: one is that, since Sunday is a day of rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ, it makes no sense to do penance on a day of celebration; thus, you may eat your chocolate and drink your soda. The other is that, although it is Sunday, we still do not sing the Gloria or the Alleluia at Mass, nor do we adorn the altar with flowers, which are all normal parts of celebration, so we should observe our Lenten promises even on Sunday. We are each free to follow whichever opinion we accept, but I ask people this: if you are going to relax your penance on Sunday during Lent, is it because you are rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ, or are you looking for an excuse to eat what you gave up? If it’s truly for rejoicing, great! But if not, then we should continue or fast even on Sunday. My personal recommendation – and it’s only that – is that we continue our Lenten observance even on Sunday.
Why do the disciples of John fast, but yours do not fast?
How can the disciples fast when the bridegroom is with them?
I was afraid you’d back up my own instinct. Now I can’t talk myself into skipping sunday abstaining.