Bishop Christopher Coyne on Lenten Fasting & Abstinence



I met Bishop Coyne on Twitter (@bishopcoyne). He is a great figure to follow, as he regularly makes apposite comments and posts reflections on scripture daily. We did plan to meet up when he was in Rome for the ad limina visit last year, and I was on a jolly, but alas, he was too busy on the day. He is currently an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Today he posted this comment about fasting during Lent on his Facebook page, which I thought was very interesting and worth sharing~
I'm one of those who does not count Sundays in Lent as days of fasting and abstinence. I do this for many reasons, much of which, I guess, comes from my studies in liturgy and history (I have a doctorate in liturgical studies). You know, if you count up all the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, there are forty-six days in Lent. But if you subtract the Sundays, there are forty days. That is because the ancient practice was that Sundays were outside of the fast.
Sunday is the first and primary Solemnity of the Church. It is the day of the resurrection, the first day and the eighth day. Historically, the gathering and celebration of the Christian community on the first day of the week predates all other celebrations. It was and is a day to recall the fullness of creation and the fullness of the offer of salvation. It was not a day to fast or mourn. It is the day of the "Bridegroom" when the "wedding guests" cannot mourn.
Long ago when we of the Latin Rite Church kept the Lenten fast, it was a very strict one: one meal a day, everyday save Sunday, no meat or fish or eggs, etc. This was coupled along with other personal and penitential practices. Sunday offered a respite from the fast and an opportunity to keep the Feast of the resurrection.
So, I do not keep the fast on Sundays in Lent. But I do try and keep the strict fast on the other days of Lent with one meal a day and extra time of prayer and penance and particular abstinences. Humanly, I look forward to Sunday when I enjoy that extra meal and perhaps a little dessert and a stomach a bit fuller. After all, it is a day to celebrate the "fullness" of creation.

Definitely expresses why I love being a Catholic! 

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