Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Fast

Thought I'd remind you, or perhaps introduce you to the practice, of the Christmas Eve fast. The Vigil of Christmas, which means the whole day of the 24th of December, is traditionally a fast day in the liturgical year. This is a characteristic that Christmas Eve shares with the season of Advent in general. Yet the fast of the Vigil of Christmas is heightened by the abstinence of meat. It is traditional, in other words, for this to be a so called fish day, like most Fridays. (This Friday is an exception, since it is the feast of the Nativity.)

Please know that what I describe here is not something that is peculiar to Roman Catholics. In fact, it is hardly a characteristic of modern Catholic culture anymore. Rather, it is a longstanding practice of traditional Christians, whether Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, or whatever. If you wish to keep the Christmas Eve fast, whether you've tried it in the past or not, please be encouraged to do so. It is your right to fast. If "it's okay to pray," it's also okay to fast, which is the ideal accompaniment to prayer. So my advice, if you are able, is to fast this Christmas Eve, beginning at midnight, and lasting until you get home from the midnight Mass about twenty four hours later. And the Christmas fast means that you limit your eating to one normal sized meal, and up to two small snacks, and keep yourself from all meat, the traditional exception being fish. Treat this day, in other words, like it were a normal Friday, and treat your Friday this week as though it were Christmas, since that is what it is this year.

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