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Can I Take Sundays off During Lent?


Editor’s note: For an updated take on this question, check out this new episode! 

In this Throwback Thursday podcast, we bring you a question Father Dave gets year after year: Can I take Sundays “off” during Lent and take a break from my Lenten promise?

Before answering, Father Dave talks about where some people get the idea that Sundays aren’t really part of Lent. Traditionally, we understand the Lenten season to last for 40 days, but if you actually count the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (when Lent ends), it comes out to more than 40. So some people deduce that if you subtract the number of Sundays during the Lenten season that you’ll arrive at 40 days, which might lead one to conclude that Sundays aren’t part of Lent. Wrong! For one thing, deducting the Sundays from the Lenten calendar doesn’t actually make it add up to precisely 40 days, and besides, the precise enumeration isn’t what’s important. (Listen to a longer explanation of that point in our NEW Facebook Live video where Father Dave answers questions about Lent.)

Another place we get this notion is from the fact that every Sunday is a Feast Day. Even the Sundays of Lent are Feast Days, or as we might call them “a Little Easter.” So some people argue that Sundays should not count as part of Lent.

Father Dave: “People will say, ‘Sunday is not a fast day!’ While that is true, it does not apply to the thing we give up for Lent, because not all of those things are fasting per se. So we do not fast [on Sundays] — and in the Catholic Church, fasting has to do with what we do communally … and the only two days in the entire Catholic Church year when we actually fast are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.”

So, Sundays during Lent are still part of Lent, and though we don’t fast on those days anyway, that doesn’t mean we skip out on our Lenten promises. (Original Air 02-20-15)

RELATED: Father Dave Answers Your Questions About Lent on Facebook Live

Photo credit: Father Dan Rupp, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Sioux City, places ashes on the forehead of six-grader Samir Arbizu. (CNS photo/Jerry L Mennenga)