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In Lent, do Sundays count?

First slide

Q. My mother was very religious and she always told us that during Lent, whatever you gave up — ice cream, candy, etc. — you could have on Sundays. Is that true? Do Sundays count as part of Lent? (Green Bay, Wis.)


A. I'll answer your second question first, because that's the easier one: "Do Sundays count as part of Lent?" The clear answer is "Yes." In the liturgical books of the church, the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends just before the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday. In the Roman Missal, for example, March 10 this year (2019) was designated as the "First Sunday of Lent."


Now, for the more complicated part: If you're fasting on candy for Lent, may you eat it on Sundays? The answer is: It's your own call. Each of us is required in a general way to do penance, but the particular manner is a personal choice. There's no law involved or question of sinfulness — you're just doing something nice for God, in return for the sacrifice Jesus made for us.


Now it's true that the church has always viewed Sunday as a day of celebration in remembrance of the Resurrection, a kind of "little Easter," and has never required fasting on Sundays — so I suppose there's some warrant, when you've adopted a Lenten penance, for "taking Sundays off."


But I think it's probably better to continue the practice throughout the whole Lenten season, Sundays included; if I gave up candy for Lent but ate it on each of the six Sundays, that doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice. (Which reminds me that a couple of years ago at a school Mass on Ash Wednesday, I asked the kids what they were giving up for Lent. One little boy raised his hand and said: "Hitting my sister." I hope that he didn't take Sundays off.)  




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019