Two days into no meat and I am already dreading the long fast ahead. But I would not wish to give up this week of Meat-Fare even if the Church abolished it. To jump from no fast to forty days of total fast would be an act of sheer madness.
One of the great shocks when growing up to learn what was in the spooky “Novus Ordo” was learning of the abolition of Septuagesima season. These three weeks had always been (for the Vigilante anyway) a necessary part of the Lenten package, with the faster dipping into his penance gradually before Ash Wednesday arrived. Similarly, the Byzantine Rite has the four week stretch of Pharisee and Publican Sunday, Prodigal Son Sunday, Meat-Fare, and Cheese-Fare which stress:
- Repentance and a warning against worthless fasting
- Repentance and a reminder of God’s infinite mercy
- The Last Judgement and the beginning of some fasting
- Forgiveness, lest we enter Lent without Charity, and the plunge into the Fast
The Orientals and Non-Chalcedonian have their own tradition as well: a three day “Fast of Nineveh” a few weeks from the start of the Fast to remind them of its approach.
Having never spent this time of the liturgical season in the New Roman Rite, I cannot imagine what a lack of Septuagesima must have done. Could this be part of the reason the Roman Church only has two required days of fast and abstinence? Is it just another part of the long process of softening traditions and fasts that has been underway since the legalistic aftermath of Trent? Or is it just another bout of American laziness and aversion to suffering?
Notably absent: Pursuit of truth, virtue, or anything beyond this life
I am glad to have a preparation before the fast and genuinely feel sorry or those who lack it.