Regulations

Lenten Observances

Lent is the season which runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of total fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence.

In keeping with the spirit and meaning of the Lenten fast, Catholics are encouraged to observe the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday and until the celebration of the Easter vigil.

The law of fasting binds persons from the completion of their 18th year to the beginning of their 60th year, i.e., from the day after their 18th birthday to the day after their 59th birthday.

The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing as far as quantity and quality are concerned, approved local custom. The order of meals is optional; i.e., the full meal may be taken in the evening instead of at midday. Also: 1) The quantity of food taken at the two lighter meals should not exceed the quantity taken at the full meal; 2) The drinking of ordinary liquids does not break the fast.

The law of abstinence binds persons from the completion of their 14th year, i.e., from the day after their 14th birthday throughout life.

The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat. It does not forbid the use of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. Also permissible are soups flavored with meat, meat gravy and sauces.

Ash Wednesday

The season of Lent begins with the ancient practice of marking the baptized with ashes as a public and communal sign of penance. The blessing and distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday normally takes place during the celebration of Mass. However, when circumstances require, the blessing and distribution of ashes may take place apart from Mass, during a celebration of the word of God.

This order may also be used when ashes are brought to the sick. According to circumstances, the rite may be abbreviated by the minister. Nevertheless, at least one Scripture reading should be included in the service.

If already blessed ashes are brought to the sick, the blessing is omitted and the distribution takes place immediately after the homily. The homily should conclude by inviting the sick person to prepare himself or herself for the reception of the ashes.

This rite may be celebrated by a priest or deacon who may be assisted by lay ministers in the distribution of the ashes. The blessing of the ashes, however, is reserved to a priest or deacon.

A further reminder: please note the penitential rite and the Gloria are omitted on Ash Wednesday.

Weddings & Funerals

On any day that ritual Masses are permitted, the rite of marriage within Mass may be used with no restriction. If marriage occurs in Advent or Lent, the nature of the season must be kept in mind when planning the celebration.

On holy days of obligation, ritual Masses are prohibited.

If the rite of marriage is celebrated within Mass, the Mass of the day is used (presidential prayers, readings and preface) with the nuptial blessings and where appropriate, the final blessing.

The rite of marriage outside Mass may be celebrated with no restrictions.

Funeral Masses may not be celebrated on holy days. Funeral rites on these days consist of a Liturgy of the Word, closing with the rite of farewell (OCF 177-203). The readings chosen should reflect the nature of these days.

Holy Week

Ritual Masses are prohibited this week and weddings outside Mass are discouraged.

On Good Friday and Holy Saturday the sacraments are not celebrated.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, marriage may be celebrated within the Mass of the day. One reading may be changed and the nuptial blessing is used, and when appropriate, the special final blessing. The rite of marriage outside Mass may be used, keeping in mind the character of the week.

Funeral Masses are permitted on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week.

On Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, Masses are not allowed. Funeral rites on these days consist of the Liturgy of the Word, closing with the rite of farewell as found in the OCF 177-203. The readings should reflect the nature of these days and communion is not given.

Sundays of Lent and Easter, the Octave of Easter and the Sundays of Advent

Ritual Masses, including the wedding Mass, are prohibited. If the rite of marriage within Mass is chosen, the Mass of the day is used as above. The rite of marriage outside Mass may be celebrated with no restrictions.

Funeral Masses may not be celebrated on the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter. A funeral service may be celebrated with readings reflecting the nature of the day.

Funeral Masses are permitted on Monday through Saturday of the Octave of Easter.

Epiphany and The Body and Blood of Christ

On these solemnities, the wedding ritual outside Mass may be used with no restrictions. If the wedding during Mass is chosen, the Mass of the solemnity is used and no readings may be changed.

Funeral Masses are permitted.

All other solemnities (Joseph, Husband of Mary; Annunciation of the Lord; Most Holy Trinity; Sacred Heart; Peter and Paul; Birth of John the Baptist; Christ the King) and All Soul's Day.

The rite of marriage outside Mass may be celebrated with no restrictions.

If the rite of marriage within Mass is chosen, the Mass of the day is used (presidential prayers, preface, and two of the readings from the Mass of the day). A third reading may be chosen from the readings for the wedding Mass, the nuptial blessing is used, and when appropriate, the special final blessing.

Funeral Masses are permitted.