This post originally debuted on the blog last March, but I felt it was worth reposting. Happy Lent all!
The other night, I was driving in Scott’s car listening to one of my favorite shows on XM Radio, “The Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer.” (Sidenote: BH is one of my clients and I think Fr. Dave is absolutely hilarious. He’s got a pretty cool background with MTV and then became a Paulist Father. His laugh is hysterical. And, he’s a perfectionist. We get along splendidly.)
A caller posed this question, “So, do Sundays during Lent count?” Meaning, aren’t Sundays in some sense a “little Easter” and a Feast Day, therefore, not falling within the “40 days of Lent”? He and I agree on this one. YES they count. There are many reasons why. He answers them all on this 15-minute podcast on the Busted Halo website.
In case you aren’t able to listen to the entire explanation, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes:
1. The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Easter Triduum. No, Holy Week is not it’s own season. That Monday through Wednesday are technically a part of the Lenten season. Break out your calendars and do the math (I know, I’m an Aggie and I’m explaining math…scary). Lent is actually NOT an exact 40 days. It’s more symbolic, as in Jesus walked in the desert and fasted for 40 days, the Israelites wandered for 40 years, Noah was in the ark 40 days…etc., etc. Clearly, 40 is a symbolic number in scripture. So, the “40 days” of Lent is not an exact science.
2. We don’t fast or abstain from celebrating Feast Days and Sunday falls within those rules. That’s why we don’t have Ash Wednesday or Good Friday (both days of abstinence from meat and fasting) on a Sunday. However, during the season of Lent, we fast from certain things in the liturgy, namely singing the “Alleluia.” It would make logical sense, then, to continue our Lenten fast (whatever it may be) even on Sundays of Lent. Which, again with the math, is only six days. Come one people. Six days. Surely whatever you gave up you can swing another six days.
3. In a more technical sense, the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday is called…The First Sunday of Lent. Amazing! It’s not called The First Sunday of Not Lent. So, even the Sundays are part of Lent.
4. Let’s just say that you gave up a vice for Lent, like swearing, gossiping or complaining. Does it really make sense to give it up for six days during the week, then when the Lord’s Day comes along to start swearing, gossiping or complaining? Didn’t think so.
This is Kathryn talking. Disclaimer: I am no theologian. Just a mom with five kids who are begging to take the Sundays off and I’m not budging. I guess I see it this way. Fish or cut bait. Either fast and give something up for 40 days or don’t bother. Make it a sacrifice. Hopefully at the end of the Lenten season you’ve not only grown closer to God, but you’ve changed a bad habit or two and refocused your priorities. I’m trying to instill life-long good choices for my kids. The whole, “give it up for six days and then take a day off” doesn’t fly with me. We will still rejoice and celebrate on the Sundays of Lent, but that doesn’t mean that our fast gets a pass.
Soap box put up