Ora et Labora – Pray and Work

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today’s Gospel in the traditional Roman Liturgy begins to turn our minds and hearts to the culminating events of the Easter season, especially the Lord’s Ascension into the glory of Heaven. His risen body is due a glorious worship far beyond what we could provide for Him on Earth. He will soon receive that external glory – fitting for the internal glory of the Risen Lord – on Ascension Thursday.

Our Lord promises that after we no longer see Him on Earth, we will then see Him again in Heaven. In this movement of the Easter season then, our hearts are drawn ever upwards, as we are exhorted by St. Peter in the Epistle to put away the desires of the flesh and to set our hearts on spiritual and heavenly pleasures.

Today is also traditionally the celebration of the Easter solemnity of St. Joseph, transferred from Wednesday. St. Joseph teaches us how to live well in this life with our hearts set on the life of future glory in Heaven. This is the secret of happiness that he teaches us, especially in our work. As he worked long hours in his carpentry, St. Joseph never lost his contemplative gaze upon Almighty God and upon His marvelous works in Jesus and Mary. He never left the presence of God in order to give his heart to creatures.

We have a tendency in our fallen nature to become very absorbed in our work in view of the goods of this life. In this absorption, bitter experience teaches us, we lose our peace of soul and become as scattered as the many different created goods we are pursuing. St. Joseph teaches us that we are to bring the wisdom of God even into our professional lives, that we are to work in light of the truth and that there is need of only One Thing. This means maintaining our constant prayer, even at work, and it means putting work and its demands in their proper place in our lives. God always comes first.

When our hearts are set on the things of this world, we are miserable. When our hearts are set on the things of Heaven, we are magnanimous and joyful and free. This is a liberating Easter lesson taught to us by St. Joseph the Worker.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

As If Newborn Babes

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today is the Octave of Easter, also called “Quasimodo Sunday” and “Dominica in albis depositis.” It is the Sunday of the “white robes laid aside” for the neophytes, who today in the ancient Church joined the assembly without wearing their baptismal garments. In our times this Octave Day of Easter is called “Divine Mercy Sunday,” so named by St. John Paul II after he instituted the plenary indulgence for this day associated with the Divine Mercy revelations to St. Faustina. As is the case with Corpus Christi or the Sacred Heart, the Divine Mercy is a local devotion that has now become a universal liturgical feast in the Roman Church. We rejoice at the beauty of the organic development of the Sacred Liturgy!

In our gospel today, Jesus gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins. It was this gospel that prompted St. John Paul to make today the Sunday of Divine Mercy. He wanted especially to highlight the Mercy of God exercised through the mediation of the hierarchical and institutional Church. On this glorious Easter day, we marvel at the magnificent gift of Divine Mercy given in the Holy Church in the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Penance. In these two sacraments, the Church continues to exercise the Power of the Keys given to St. Peter and all the Apostles by the Risen Lord Jesus.

Immediately before communicating the power of the keys to the Apostles, Our Lord breathed on them and greeted them, “Peace be with you.” In this breathing and greeting, He teaches us the refreshing tranquility of His Divine Mercy. In baptism and confession Jesus breathes on us His Holy Spirit and grants us peace with God, with the Church and with ourselves. If we desire refreshment and peace, we need only to bring our wounded souls before Our Lord’s compassionate Tribunal of Mercy.

The gift of peace of soul is especially given in the devout reception of the Sacrament of Penance because there is often great heartache involved in the commission of sins after baptism. When someone makes a good confession, with deep contrition and true and firm purpose of amendment, doing his penance with great love, he receives that peaceful breath of Jesus deep in his soul. He feels re-created and made new because He has been restored to life and wholeness. He is set free from the slavery of the devil and sin, which he renounced in his baptism and to which he had returned by mortal sin. He is in the Heart of Jesus, the only true Oasis of Peace.

Let us pray for a generous and fruitful ministry in the confessional for all priests so that the gift of Jesus’s Breath of Peace may be received unto salvation by all Christians.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Christ Paschal Victory, Rejoice!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What did the night of Easter witness? God had died. God’s dead body was in the tomb and His separated soul was freeing the just from the Limbo of the Fathers in Hell. But early on Easter Sunday morning, during the still of that holy night – this morning! – God rose from the dead! This is the great mystery of which the night alone was witness. How blessed the Easter night, which was alone worthy to see the Victory of Life over Death!

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia! The Church thrills with joy at the Victory of her Savior. On the third day after His true death, Our Lord, by His own divine power, reunited His soul and body. The life that He assumed in His Resurrection is new life, the life of glory. He will never die again. His Resurrection is permanent because the glory of His beatified soul overflows now into His Sacred Body. Thus, He now has a glorified Body!

Jesus’s glorified Body still bears the scars of His wounds. He has chosen to leave them there. He could have healed them. St. Thomas Aquinas, whose patron saint doubted and then loved those wounds so much, tells us that the scars of Christ’s Passion shine forth in His glorified Body with a certain beauty and radiance. Before His appearance was marred and grotesque; now He is comely with glory! His wounds are now trophies of Victory! He has conquered sin and death forever!

Jesus’s Resurrection is our justification. His Glory is our new life. In baptism, we have died and risen with Him. We no longer are captives to sin, no longer slaves of the devil in Adam. Now we are set free by the healing wounds of Jesus, which shine forth so beautifully on His Risen Body! We have risen with Jesus! This is our new Life! This is the fullness of the mystery of the Sacred Night. This is the Eighth Day of Creation, the Sacred Day of Eternity, which will witness the resurrection of all those justified by faith in Christ! This is the Day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in It!

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Holy Week

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today the Church enters the most solemn week of her liturgical year. During Holy Week we accompany Jesus Christ in His Passion and Death, which finally bear fruit in His most sacred Resurrection. We are not mere bystanders at these events, but they enter into our souls to the extent that we open ourselves to them.

The Sacred Liturgy is our teacher in the spirituality of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we welcome with joy into our hearts Jesus Christ our King, so that we might be filled with the hope of entering one day into the New and Heavenly Jerusalem, following where our Head has gone before us.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, the Church traditionally sings the Passion according to Mark and Luke, respectively. These more contemplative days of our Week allow us to meditate deeply on the theological richness of the Passion narrative. We especially see how much Our Savior loves us, that He freely hands Himself over, in all humility, to such immense suffering for our salvation. On Holy Thursday, the Church interrupts her sacred gloom to celebrate with more festivity three wonderful mysteries: the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ, the most august Sacrament of the Altar and the commandment of charity by which we are to live every moment of our lives. On this day, we rejoice at the harmonious unity of these mysteries: the priesthood gives us the Eucharist and the Eucharist gives us the grace to live divine love. We can hear again the words of St. John Chrysostom, that we must clothe Christ in silk on the altar, but that we must also clothe Him in wool in the poor.

On Good Friday, we die with Jesus Christ. We worship His most sacred Cross, which has become for us the tree of true life. We genuflect before the sacred wood that bore Our Savior. Ave Crux, Spes Unica! Hail, O Cross, our Only Hope! The dead body of God is in Mary’s arms, while His separated soul is freeing the just from the Limbo of the Fathers in the descent into Hell. On Holy Saturday, we have nowhere to go but to our Sorrowful Mother. She alone keeps the faith in the Resurrection on this dark day. We continue our sacred fast and we keep her company in our empty church, praying as much of the Holy Rosary as we can. We are with the Magdalene by the tomb, weeping. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Entering the Passiontide

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today the Church enters into Passiontide, the solemn final two weeks of the Lenten fast. During this time the Church keeps in her mind the Passion and Death of her Divine Spouse. She mourns for Him and suffers with Him and dies with Him so that she may rise with Him.

There are many liturgical changes accompanying these final two weeks in the tradition of the Roman Liturgy. The Church sings the Preface of the Holy Cross rather than that of Lent; she omits Psalm 42 at the beginning of Holy Mass, as in a Mass for the Dead; and, also as in a Mass for the Dead, she omits the “Glory be” during Holy Mass, as a kind of double-fasting from any hint of joyful praise in the Liturgy. Instead, and most notably, she veils her images, especially of the Holy Cross of the Savior.

The Veiling of Images during Passiontide takes its inspiration from the Gospel of Passion Sunday, in which we sing that Our Lord miraculously hid Himself from the Jews so that they would not kill Him. We also can connect the Veiling to the prophecy of Isaiah about the extent of the suffering endured by the Lord in His Passion: “Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals.” In His Passion our Jesus hid His Beautiful Face from us. His Face was so covered with blood, spittle and disfigurement that we hardly recognized Him, and so we veil His Sacred Image during Passiontide.

Passion Sunday often occurs near the two great feast days of St. Joseph and the Annunciation. The virtue of obedience to God’s Will is the common thread connecting these three liturgies. Jesus, Mary and Joseph all teach us that, if we wish to be fruitful in divine love, we must become obedient even unto death, death on the Cross. St. Joseph obeyed God even when he did not understand the how or why and kept the Holy Family safe and secure. Our Blessed Mother obeyed God and so became the Vessel through which the Salvation entered the world. Jesus Christ obeyed His Father and received a Name above every Name, meriting His own exaltation and our salvation. If we wish to die with Him this Passiontide, our joyful task is to obey God in all aspects of our lives. Only in that way will we find salvation.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Laetare Sunday – Looking to Easter

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Thursday the Church celebrated the mid-way point of Lent. Traditionally, the mid-Lent Thursday is kept with some festivity and the tables of monasteries feature more abundant and better-tasting food. This festivity is a kind of anticipation of Easter joy and an encouragement to us to keep going strong with our Lenten fasting. In order not to tempt the faithful to break the Lenten fast, this mid-Lent festivity was transferred in ancient times to the following Sunday, which we keep today. This is the origin of Laetare Sunday, which we mark by using rose vestments, the pipe organ and flowers at the altar.

It is very merciful of our Mother, the Church, to allow us to celebrate this foretaste of Easter today. She has it in her heart to encourage us to finish strong this holy season, especially as we embark on its more somber days in Passiontide. The joy of Easter stands before us, urging us on as we join Our Lord in His Passion and Death by our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We are taught today the value of this Heavenly encouragement. We are given a pattern for how we should seek consolation in our lives: the future glory of the Resurrection is our present joy, enlivening our suffering and dying with Christ. The Station for today in Rome is the church of the “Holy Cross in Jerusalem,” adorned with Jerusalem treasures by St. Helen. In the Liturgy today, the Church longs for Jerusalem as she is in the midst of her Seventy Years of Babylonian Exile. This is a continuation of the theme of Septuagesima, but now the Promised Land is in sight and our hearts and steps are quickened by hope. This hope is the true consolation of our hearts. All other consolations are false and illusory. Even the human consolations that are not sinful in themselves are not sufficient for allowing us to order our lives to the Resurrection. We need to find our happiness in Jesus alone if we are to experience a sustainable existence in His Life.

This consolation is ours especially in the use of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. The Sacrament of Penance corresponds beautifully to the fragrance of the Golden Rose, which marks the ancient celebration of this day in the Church of Rome. Sin is putrid. It rots our souls. It is a leprosy. Confession restores us to health and integrity. It makes our souls fragrant with holiness. By Penance our souls are made beautiful like the Pope’s ceremonial rose. In receiving Jesus in the Eucharist today we are filled with a greater consolation than the multitudes who were fed by Him from the five loaves and two fish. In our Communion today we anticipate Easter and Heaven. Let us find our consolation in its only true Source!

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Second Sunday of Lent: Jesus’ Transfiguration

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Why does the Church place before us the Lord’s Transfiguration on the Second Sunday of Lent? St. Thomas Aquinas: “Now in order that anyone go straight along a road, he must have some knowledge of the end: thus an archer will not shoot the arrow straight unless he first see the target…Above all is this necessary when hard and rough is the road, heavy the going, but delightful the end.”

We are on the hard, rough road of Lent – of the Cross – and we are headed towards the delightful end of Easter – of the Resurrection. We need this encouragement from Jesus to keep our eye on the prize of glorious resurrection in order that we may faithfully suffer and die with Him.

The Transfiguration is a preview of the Resurrection for the disciples and for us. During Lent, our Lord is asking us to go out into the desert with Him. He is asking us to suffer with Him and eventually to die with Him. By giving us this preview of His glory and ours today, He wishes to reassure us that suffering and death are not the final word of our story with Him. He wishes to encourage our hearts with the truth of the future glory of Heaven to which we are called. And so today He shows us His Resurrection.

We ought to think often of Heaven as specifically and intensely as possible. This is the primary reason that the saints instruct us to do daily meditation. We are to keep our minds and hearts in Heaven so that we will desire Heaven and endure whatever sufferings are required of us in order to gain Heaven.

In Heaven, we will experience the Beatific Vision: we will see God in His essence with the eyes of our soul. This intellectual Vision of God is our complete and perfect happiness. It is an all-engrossing activity that quiets our will completely, the infinite realization of contemplation and friendship. Whatever joy we have in this life, whatever bits of happiness we managed to experience as we journey here, are only the slightest hints of the joy and happiness that will be ours in the Beatific Vision. This Beatific Vision, by which our soul will be filled with God, will overflow into our bodies when we receive them again in the resurrection on the Last Day. Thus, we will live for all eternity – forever – with glorified souls and glorified bodies, like Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will have bodies that shine with the clarity of glory that our Lord revealed in the Transfiguration. All we have to do is love Him so as to suffer with Him and die with Him.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Invocabit Sunday: Temptation – What is it and how do we resist it?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today is “Invocabit Sunday,” the solemn beginning of the Holy Season of Quadragesima, “Forty Days”, which we call “Lent”. This Sunday ranks with Passion and Palm Sundays, such that in the Roman Church no feast day ever takes its place. As we begin Holy Lent the Church places before our hearts the dramatic events of the Temptation of Our Lord. Here we learn the meaning of our holy season and its essential character as profound union with Christ; we go to the desert to fast with Jesus during Lent because we want to be wherever He is.

We are in Love with Him and so we go wherever He goes. Our Love makes us willing to suffer and to die with Him so that we may rise with Him at Easter. It was Jesus’s Forty Days of fasting in the desert that caused the Roman Church to add the last four days of Quinquagesima week to her solemn fast (six weeks of six fast days in Quadragesima, plus Ash Wednesday and the other three days). Quadregisma itself serves as a tithe of our whole year as we give God ten percent of our days in holy fasting.

Jesus’s temptations are very real and at the same time entirely external to Him. There is nothing in Him that tempts Him or leads Him to sin. The only temptation to which He can be subject is that which comes from outside, from the devil. The devil does not know that Jesus is God. If he knew, he would not dare to tempt Him. Jesus suffers His temptations after fasting for 40 days like Moses and Elijah and feeling fully the weakness of our frail humanity. He seems to be inviting the devil into the desert for combat, challenging His opponent by revealing His weakness, only to overcome the tempter not with the power of His Divinity but with the humility of His humanity.

The three temptations suffered by Our Lord correspond to the three fundamental ways that we all are tempted. All sins, St. John teaches us, can be reduced to either the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. Our Lord conquers the lust of the flesh by refusing to turn the stones into bread, even though He was very hungry. Such a miracle would have been disordered since the needs of the body ought to be fulfilled by ordinary means when they are available. He conquers the lust of the eyes (greed) by refusing to worship the devil in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world. He conquers the pride of life by refusing to make a spectacle of His divine power, thus glorifying Himself, by throwing Himself off the parapet of the temple and being saved by angels.

St. Thomas teaches us that Our Lord allowed Himself to be tempted in order to be the cause of our own conquering of temptation. In other words, because the Head of the Church and the Source of all grace has conquered every temptation, we, His members, share in that victory and can conquer in our own lives all the temptations that come our way. Jesus is the True Cause of our overcoming of temptation. Additionally, Jesus’s temptation teaches us that we are never holy enough to be past temptation. This is a sober lesson never to trust ourselves. He also gave us the example of how to conquer temptation: prayer and fasting, combined with profound humility and deep knowledge of the Scripture. Our Lord doesn’t entertain the temptations but combats them and destroys them immediately by humbly quoting the inspired Word of God.

Perhaps the most tender dimension of Our Lord’s temptation is brought out especially in the letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews: because He has been tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin, Our Lord is our compassionate and merciful High Priest Whom we can approach with confidence. His temptation makes us feel close to Him and allows us to cling to Him in love. This is ultimately the fundamental movement of Lent. We humble ourselves by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, so that we can achieve total union with our Merciful Savior.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali

Lenten Fasting and Abstinence – El ayuno cuaresmal y la abstinencia

Lenten Fasting and Abstinence And Friday abstinence throughout the year

The Current Law of the Church

Abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of the year (except if there is a Solemnity), which is strictly mandatory during Lent but can be substituted with another penance outside of Lent. [This is mandatory for all 14 and up, until death.]

Fasting, meaning one regular meal and two small snacks, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday – and encouraged on Holy Saturday. [This is mandatory for all from 18 to 59.]

(Laws of fasting and abstinence bind gravely, so that it is objectively in the realm of mortal sin to break them significantly without a grave reason [like being very ill or having to perform some extreme physical labor].)


Father Ryan’s Recommendations

Fasting has traditionally been understood to mean only one meal (taken after 3pm), and only one very small snack (like a piece of bread with honey, or a few veggies). Those who are grown and healthy might consider incorporating this practice on even a weekly basis, especially Fridays – however, growing children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant mothers, etc should speak first with their confessor.

Abstinence has traditionally been understood to mean not just avoiding meat, but also products derived from these animals – namely, broth, meat-gravy, dairy, eggs, etc. This is the origin of the “Easter egg,” since eggs were forbidden during Lent. This is also why Catholics were called “Fish eaters” because they couldn’t eat meat or eggs or dairy – fish was a major part of the Lenten diet.

Less than 100 years ago, abstinence was practiced not only on Fridays, but also on Wednesdays and Saturdays – and even “partial abstinence” on every day of Lent (including Sundays), which meant that meat, eggs, or dairy could only be eaten at one meal during the day. The more ancient practice was to fully abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy on every single day of Lent, and to fast every day but Sunday!

For those who are able, it would be good to consider practicing abstinence from meat, eggs, and dairy on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. And even to adopt partial abstinence on every day of Lent.




“The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, in the Constitution Non ambigimus of 10 June 1745)

Let’s review the Canon Law of the Church:

Can. 1249 All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. […]

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and [every day of] the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. […]

Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.


It is clear that each and every Friday through the entire year is a day of penance. This is prescribed by the Law of the Church. In the Universal Church, Catholics are obligated to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. The US Bishops have obtained permission for some other form of penance for Fridays outside of Lent. However, we must recall that all US Catholics are obligated to do penance of some sort on every Friday of the year (excepting if it be a solemnity; for example, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart). Penance on Fridays is binding on all Catholics from 14 years until death. There is no upper age limit to abstaining from meat or some other form of penance outside of Lent. However, the two days of fasting (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) bind only from 18 to 60 years – Catholics are strongly encouraged, but not bound, to fast also on Holy Saturday.

But how serious is this obligation? After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI issued a declaration regarding the necessity of penance in the Christian life. Regarding abstinence from meat (or some other penance as determined by the Bishops’ Conference) on every Friday throughout the year, the Pope states, in 1966, “Their substantial observance binds gravely.” (Paenitemini, Norm II.2) This was further clarified by the Vatican, stating that omitting a part of the prescript of penance “which is notable either quantitatively or qualitatively, without an excusing motive” is a grave sin. (Dubium of 31 March 1967).

What does this mean? It means that Catholics are bound under pain of mortal sin to practice penance on every Friday throughout the year, and not just during Lent. The universal way in which Catholics practice this penance is by abstaining from meat. However, in the USA other forms of penance may be substituted, but some sort of penance is mandatory. To omit penance on numerous Fridays outside of Lent (or even one Friday of Lent) without a grave reason would be a mortal sin.

Am I in mortal sin, if I’ve never heard about this and have never done Friday penance before?! Of course not. If you truly did not know, but generally seek to follow the teachings of the Church, you are not guilty of committing a mortal sin you didn’t know about. However, we all have the obligation to learn and spread the fullness of the Catholic teaching, so we must strive from now on to practice Friday penance.

Why haven’t I heard about this before? If it really is an issue of mortal sin, why haven’t other priests told me about this?! Sadly, this is one of many areas where many priests and bishops of the past 50 years have failed gravely in their duty to teach the Catholic faith.


El ayuno cuaresmal y la abstinencia Y la abstinencia de viernes durante todo el año

La ley actual de la iglesia

Abstinencia de la carne el miércoles de ceniza y todos los viernes del año (con excepción si hay una solemnidad), la cual es estrictamente obligatorio durante la Cuaresma, pero puede sustituirse con otra penitencia fuera de Cuaresma. [Esto es obligatorio para los de 14 años y hasta llegar a la muerte.]

El ayuno, es decir, una comida regular y dos pequeños bocados, el Miércoles de Ceniza y Viernes Santo – y se alienta también el Sábado Santo. [Esto es obligatorio para todos los de 18 a 59].

(Las leyes de ayuno y abstinencia ligan gravemente, de modo que estas objetivamente están en el área de pecado mortal si se quebrantan considerablemente sin una razón grave [como estar muy enfermo o tener que realizar algún trabajo físico extremo].)

Las recomendaciones del padre Ryan

El ayuno ha sido tradicionalmente entendido como una sola comida (tomado después de las 3pm), y sólo un muy pequeño bocado (como un trozo de pan con miel, o unas verduras). Aquellos que son ya grandes y saludables podrían considerar la posibilidad de incorporar esta práctica incluso en una base semanal, especialmente los viernes -sin embargo, el crecimiento de los niños, los ancianos, los enfermos, las mujeres embarazadas, etc. deben hablar primero con su confesor.

Se ha entendido tradicionalmente que la abstinencia significa no sólo evitar la carne, sino también productos derivados de estos animales -es decir, caldo, salsa de carne, productos lácteos, huevos, etcétera. Este es el origen del “huevo de Pascua”, ya que los huevos estaban prohibidos durante la Cuaresma. Este es también el motivo por el que los católicos fueron llamados “Comedores de peces” porque no podía comer carne o huevos o productos lácteos – El pescado es una parte importante de la cuaresma de dieta.

Hace menos de 100 años, la abstinencia fue practicada no sólo los viernes, sino también los miércoles y los sábados – e incluso “abstinencia parcial” todos los días de la Cuaresma (incluyendo el domingo), que significa que la carne, huevos o productos lácteos pueden consumirse sólo en una comida durante el día. ¡La más antigua práctica era de completamente abstenerse de la carne, huevos, y productos lácteos en cada día de la Cuaresma, y a ayunar cada día con excepción del domingo!

Para aquellos que son capaces, sería bueno considerar practicando la abstinencia de carne, huevos, y productos lácteos Los miércoles, viernes y sábados. Y hasta adoptar abstinencia parcial durante cada día de Cuaresma.


“La observancia de Cuaresma es la misma insignia de la guerra cristiana. Por ello, demostramos no ser enemigos de la cruz de Cristo. Por ello, evitamos los azotes de la justicia divina.  Por ello, nos hacemos fuertes contra los príncipes de las tinieblas, porque nos protege con ayuda celestial. Si la humanidad se pone negligente en su observancia de la Cuaresma, sería un perjuicio a la gloria de Dios, una vergüenza para la religión católica y un peligro para las almas cristianas. Tampoco se puede dudar que esa negligencia se convertiría en la fuente de la miseria en el mundo, de calamidad pública y de aficcion privada.”

(Papa Benedicto XIV, en la Constitución no ambigimus de 10 de junio de 1745)



Revisemos el Derecho Canónico de la Iglesia:

Can. 1249 todos los fieles de Cristo están obligados por ley divina, cada uno en su propia manera, a hacer penitencia. Sin embargo, de modo que todos puedan ser afiliados juntos en cierta práctica común de la penitencia, días de penitencia se prescriben. […]

Can. 1250 Los días y horas de penitencia para la Iglesia universal son cada viernes de todo el año y [cada día de] la temporada de cuaresma.

Can. 1251 La abstinencia de carne, o de otros alimentos según lo determinado por la Conferencia Episcopal, debe ser observado en todos los viernes, a menos que una solemnidad cayera en viernes. […]

Can. 1253 La Conferencia Episcopal puede determinar más formas particulares en que el ayuno y la abstinencia deben ser observadas. En lugar de la abstinencia o el ayuno se puede sustituir, ya sea en total o en parte, otras formas de penitencia, sobre todo, las obras de caridad y ejercicios de piedad.

Está claro que cada viernes a través de todo el año es un día de penitencia. Esto se prescribe por la ley de la iglesia. En la Iglesia Universal, los católicos están obligados a abstenerse de carne todos los viernes del año. Los obispos estadounidenses han obtenido permiso para alguna otra forma de penitencia de los viernes fuera de cuaresma. Sin embargo, debemos recordar que todos los católicos de Estados Unidos están obligados a hacer penitencia de algún tipo todos los viernes del año (excepto si es una solemnidad, por ejemplo, la solemnidad del sagrado corazón). Penitencia el viernes es vinculante para todos los católicos desde 14 años hasta la muerte. No hay límite de edad para abstenerse de la carne o de alguna otra forma de penitencia fuera de la cuaresma. Sin embargo, los dos días de ayuno (Miércoles de Ceniza y Viernes Santo) sólo ligan de 18 a 60 años, los católicos son fuertemente alentados, pero no obligados, a ayunar también el Sábado Santo.

Pero ¿qué tan seria es esta obligación? Después del Vaticano II, papa Paul VI hizo una declaración sobre la necesidad de la penitencia en la vida cristiana. Con respecto a la abstinencia de carne (o alguna otra penitencia según lo determine la Conferencia de obispos) cada viernes a lo largo del año, afirma el Papa, en 1966, “Su observancia sustancial liga gravemente”. (Paenitemini, Norma II.2) Esto fue más aclarado por el Vaticano, indicando que la omisión de una parte de las prescripciones de la penitencia “que sea notable ya sea cuantitativamente o cualitativamente, sin un motivo de perdón” es un pecado grave. (Dubium de 31 de marzo de 1967).

¿Qué significa esto? Esto significa que los católicos están obligados bajo pena de pecado mortal para la práctica de la penitencia en todos los viernes durante todo el año y no sólo durante la Cuaresma. La forma universal en el que los católicos practican esta penitencia es absteniéndose de la carne. Sin embargo, en los Estados Unidos se pueden sustituir otras formas de penitencia, pero algún tipo de penitencia es obligatorio. Al omitir la penitencia varios viernes fuera de Cuaresma (o incluso un viernes de Cuaresma) sin una razón grave sería un pecado mortal.

¿Estoy en el pecado mortal, si nunca he oído sobre esto y nunca he hecho la penitencia el viernes anteriormente?! Por supuesto que no. Si usted realmente no lo sabía, pero generalmente trata de seguir las enseñanzas de la iglesia, no es culpable de cometer un pecado mortal sobre el cual no sabía. Sin embargo, tenemos la obligación de aprender y difundir la plenitud de la enseñanza católica, por lo que debemos luchar a partir de ahora a practicar la penitencia del viernes.

¿Por qué no he oído hablar de esto antes? Si realmente es un problema de pecado mortal, ¿por qué no otros sacerdotes me dijeron acerca de esto?  Lamentablemente, esta es una de muchas áreas donde muchos sacerdotes y obispos de los últimos 50 años han fracasado gravemente en su deber de enseñar la fe católica.



Quinquagesima Sunday: “Lord, That I May See”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today the Church celebrates, in the traditional Roman Liturgy, Quinquagesima (Fifty Days) Sunday, traditionally called “Carnival Sunday” because the Lenten fast for the priests began tomorrow and it was the last day the priests could eat meat until Easter. Quinquagesima Sunday is the third and final Sunday of the season of Septuagesima (Seventy Days), which the Church has kept for more than 1,000 years as a kind of preparation for the solemn fast of Quadregesima (the Forty Days of Lent). Septuagesima is a vitally important liturgical season because it places before our minds and hearts our depraved sinfulness whereby we have mortally wounded ourselves. In that way, it is a kind of extended meditation on our need for a Savior and on our need for Lent.

The Church assists us in this meditation in various ways. As Israel was seventy years in captivity in Babylon, the Church keeps the Seventy Days (63 days is rounded to 70) of preparation for the return to Jerusalem that is Easter. While we are in Babylon, however, we cannot sing the song of the Lord on alien soil, and so we traditionally abstain from the Alleluia from Septuagesima Sunday until Easter. This places before our minds the bleak reality of our exile. By our sins, we have left our homeland. During Septuagesima, we keep focused on getting back home.

The Church assists us further in our Roman tradition by taking the Gloria away from our Sunday Liturgy and dressing her ministers in the penitential color of violet. She replaces the Alleluia with the subdued song of the Tract, and she takes away the Te Deum at the Divine Office on Sundays. All is mournful as the Church shows us our woundedness. She is preparing us for – urging us towards – the prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent, through which we will die to ourselves in order to rise with Christ.

On these final days of Septuagesima, we take stock of our lives. We judge the areas where we need to grow and we select our Lenten disciplines accordingly. Each of us embraces in our intention during these holy days a specific and substantial Lenten penance in the areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For example, one might commit himself during Lent to 15 minutes of mental prayer upon rising, to abstaining from desserts (except on Sundays and solemnities) and to giving alms weekly to the poor box in the church. Septuagesima is the time for us to reflect and meditate on our need for these kinds of practices in our lives. Seeing our nothingness and the horror of our sinful attachments, we are motivated to allow the Holy Spirit to purify us, beginning on Ash Wednesday.

Pray for me,
Father Joseph Previtali