Quick . . . someone call the Pope!
Since my fans have expressed such an interest in all-things-Lent, I thought I’d present the results of my recent research (after a discussion with my sister who apparently is not really giving anything up but simply going through the rooms of her house to throw stuff out. Sheesh.)
See, in my March 6 post about what I may (or may not) be forsaking, I tipped you off to a little-known quirk about “weekends off” in the official Rules For Lent—you know, that time when people pretend to “give up something they like” for theologically obscure reasons.
First off, to get the official definition of Lent, we started with the unabridged OED, which as you can see is printed in such teeny tiny type that it actually takes a magnifying glass to read…
…thus the photo is not as sharp as one would like, but it says “the period including 40 weekdays…”
𝘤𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦 (𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘦)
But wait . . . what constitutes a “weekday” . . . and thus a potential Lent-free weekend?
So next stop: the so-called “Dutch Catechism.”¹
…which doesn’t actually tell us a lot, other than “40 days”
So at this point we are forced to consult the most authoritative calendar in Christendom: my sister’s annual family calendar . . .
…with very odd results.
It seems there are 46 full days from Ash Wed. to Easter Eve (that is, Ash Wed. through the Saturday before Easter Sunday).
Side note: Starting on “Ash Thursday”² and removing Sundays leaves 39 days; so too with Saturdays. But presumably Lent starts on Ash Wed.
Now, if you include Ash Wed. you get the full 40 days, excluding either Saturdays or Sundays.
So the big question is: Which day are you allowed to break the Lenten fast and eat your favorite chocolate treats, sneak a glass of beer or a non-medical smoke or, well, whatever you’ve putatively given up?
According to most national customs, Sunday³ is actually the first day of the week, which would seem to leave Saturday as a non-weekday. However, excluding Saturdays actually leaves us with a dreadful “39 days of Lent.”
Someone needs to get in touch with the Pope4 to settle this critical theological issue so we can get down to the business of legally interrupting our Lenten
deals covenants in good, um, faith.
¹ De Nieuwe Katechismus, commissioned by the Hierarchy of the Netherlands (whatever that is).
² Ash Thursday? Ok, I made that up.
³ …and according to an authoritative source, Lent does not include Sundays because Sunday is actually a sort of mini-Easter, whatever that means, and so would not count as a “weekend” day by the Church.
4 But not this Pope