Images de page

all food of every quality and quantity outside the principal meal, prohibits a fortiori foods of certain special qualities. And the practical result will be that, in the future just as in the past, even when there is no 'abstinence,' certain classes of food--meat is an obvious example-will be excluded from the light meal, morning and evening.

In the second section of the same canon (1251) two further concessions are enumerated. In virtue of the first, the prohibition against using flesh and fish at the same meal on fast days is discontinued. It is an important concession or at all events must have been regarded as such by ecclesiastical legislators in the past, seeing that it has been consistently refused in practically all, even the most liberal, indults of the past two hundred years and more. The other is of less consequence. A man may, if he pleases, have a light meal in the course of the day and postpone his dinner till late in the evening. It is useful to have this expressly stated, but really there has never been much practical difficulty felt in regard to it. regard to it. We may remember, however, that the Continental and the Irish practices in regard to the two light meals are different. On the Continent the lighter of the two is taken in the morning; with us in the evening. If we give a strict interpretation to the general law, this concession included, the order will be the lighter meal, the light meal, dinner. But seeing that the transposition of the two light meals has always been allowed in this country, we may take it that the same will be allowed in the future: in other words, that the order -light meal, lighter meal, dinner-may be adopted, if anyone feels so inclined.

The days on which the restrictions operate are defined with a clearness that, so far as the general law goes, leaves nothing to be desired. Four rules govern the whole position :

1°. Abstinence alone binds on all Fridays.

2o. Abstinence and fast combined on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays and Saturdays of Lent, Ember days, and the vigils of Pentecost, the Assumption, All Saints, and Christmas Day. 3°. Fast alone on the other days of Lent.

4°. All these restrictions-fast, abstinence, and both combined--cease when any of the days to which they are attached falls on a Sunday or feast of precept,1 and are

1 This had been allowed already by Pope Pius X. See I. E. RECORD (September, 1911), Fourth Series, vol. xxx. pp. 329, 330.

not to be transferred to the vigil in such cases. They cease, moreover, after noon on Holy Saturday.

The first rule is the same as the old; the others allow greater freedom. The fast and abstinence that used to affect the 28th of June is removed by the second, the abstinence on the Sundays and first four week-days of Lent by the third (with the exception of Ash Wednesday), the regulations about anticipated vigils, and the fast and abstinence on Holy Saturday afternoon, by the fourth. As for the latter, it may be questioned whether the fast binds now on Holy Saturday at all. Some used to claim that when a person was free from the fast in the later portion of the day he was free all along-on the plea that the fast attaching to any particular day was one and indivisible, and that anyone entitled to violate the essence of the fast by having two full meals later on should not be held to anything merely accidental. Whatever probability attaches to that view may be taken account of now on Holy Saturday. But it may be reasonably claimed that the regulation about quality at least should hold, just as it did in places where, by local custom, a full meal used to be taken late on Christmas Eve and other vigils.

That is all very satisfactory, so far as the general law is concerned. But there are a few problems in connexion with our own laws and customs that are not by any means so easy of solution.

The Advent fast is one. We are sometimes tempted to forget that it has never been imposed by a general law. But such is the fact. There are few countries in which it is not, or has not been, observed in one form or another, but, all the same, it has never been made obligatory by any law binding on the universal Church. There were particular laws on the subject at a comparatively early date in the Eastern and Western Churches, but on the Continent they seem to have fallen into desuetude or to have been repealed by express enactment before the close of the fourteenth century. In Ireland the records show a greater rigour. There was an Advent fast-commonly called the Winter Lent, and extending uninterruptedly from the 15th of November till Christmas Day--that would appear to have dated almost from the days of St. Patrick, and that certainly continued till the middle of the seventeenth century-long after the corresponding practice had been

1e.g., by Pope Urban VIII at Avignon, 1370.

discontinued elsewhere. So much were the Irish people devoted to this and other fasts that, even when the Popes granted special indults to the Bishops, the latter thought it wiser to use their powers with very great caution, and the people for a long time steadily refused to avail of even such partial relaxations as the Bishops granted. But the general tendency towards less rigorous methods produced its effect at last, and, so far as we can gather, there was practically no trace of the old Advent fast towards the close of the seventeenth century. After it had ceased, however, for a century or so, a new regulation came into force. Feasts, and fasts attached to their vigils, were being suppressed in many portions of the Catholic world; and the general policy followed, obviously with the intention of restoring an old discipline, was to transfer these fasts, or some of them, to Advent. That was what happened in Ireland also. In the year 1778, Pius VI transferred to the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent the fasts previously attached to eight vigils-one that of St. Laurence the Martyr, the other seven those of the Apostles. And, except that a change in the meantime was cancelled later, that has been the law ever since.1

Has this Advent fast been abolished now by the new Code? The difficulty about giving a reply is that, in the canon of interpretation (6) which governs previously existing laws, there is nothing to which we can appeal in favour of its abolition. Not to the first section, because the Advent fast, though not prescribed by the new Code, is obviously not opposed to it. Not to the sixth, because the Advent fast is not imposed by a general law.

Notwithstanding that, we think it very highly probable-and a safe opinion in practice, till we hear to the contrary-that the Advent fast and abstinence may be left out of our calculations for the future. In favour of its abolition, we would suggest a few considerations :

1o. From what we have stated already, in connexion with the history of the question, there is at least a claim in equity. The Advent fast, as we know it, is only a substituted fast had it remained on the vigils, it would certainly have been abolished by the present Code. It seems

1 On the history of the question, see I. E. RECORD, Third Series, 1880, vol. i. pp. 748 sqq.; 1881, vol. ii. pp. 104 sqq.; Renehan's Collections on Irish Church History, pp. 319 sqq.; Moran, History of the Archbishops of Dublin, i. pp. 271 sqq. ; etc.

2 See Dr. Kinane's article, pp. 378-380.



reasonable to suggest that a favour' granted over a century ago should impose no onus' now--that our substantial obligations should not be increased by the more or less accidental arrangement of 1778. But the claim, strictly speaking, is only one in equity. The Advent fast has been imposed in countries in which no vigils of the kind had been suppressed. And, in other cases of transference, the view has been widely accepted that the obligations attaching to the second day are independent of the modifications that would have affected them, had they remained attached to the first.2

2o. We might also note that the Advent fast is not purely local. It is pretty well known all through the Church, and the complete silence of the legislator in its regard can hardly be altogether without significance. It closely approximates to the standard of a general law; and the closer any law does so, the greater, in the circumstances, is the probability of its abolition.

3°. Perhaps more important-the considerations to which we drew attention in the opening paragraphs of this section all hold good. Uniformity is the watchword. It has been employed as against liberty. Let it be applied also in its favour.

4°. The points just mentioned, however, though not without their force, are hardly decisive. We would rely chiefly on our fourth and last. It is furnished by canon 1253. Here we have the special rule for the interpretation of the fasting laws: it is quite distinct from, and independent of, those furnished in the opening pages of the Code-else we fail to see for what possible purpose it could have been introduced. Now, this particular canon distinctly specifies the three classes of cases-one of them (Indults) generally contra legem, the other two (vows and Religious or community rules) praeter legem-in which the new general law does not interfere with previously existing regulations. The inference would seem to be clear. Applying the principle Legislator quod tacuit noluit quod voluit expressit, we are justified in concluding that the law does

1e.g., in America, cf. I. E. RECORD, 1881, p. 112.

2 e.g., in connexion with the Wednesday fast in Advent (cf. I. E. RECORD, 1880, pp. 748 sqq.; 1881, pp. 51-58). A more obvious, but perhaps extreme, instance would be that of the Sunday observance transferred by Church authority from Saturday. No one thinks himself excused from the law governing servile works on Sunday by the fact that he would have been excused the day before.

interfere with all other regulations contra or praeter legem. And the Advent fast is one of them.

These last two considerations will operate with equal effect in regard to another law of ours, a relic of old-time rigour, that holds in certain dioceses-that of abstaining from eggs on the vigils of SS. Peter and Paul, the Assumption, All Saints, and Christmas Day, when any of these vigils falls on a Friday. In favour of its abolition, we have, in addition, the express statement that abstinence does not forbid the use of eggs and white-meats' (1250). When the general law guarantees liberty in any department, a particular law, imposing an obligation in that same department, would seem to be opposed to the general, and, therefore, abrogated, in accordance with the first secton of the sixth canon.1

[ocr errors]

Then there is the special concession, granted to the faithful in this country on the 31st July, 1912, by which the use of meat was allowed on the second of two successive days of abstinence outside Lent. Does that concession still operate? We see no reason for denying it. The concession bears all the marks of an Indult,' at least in the wider sense of the term--in common with the Scotch concession, on which it was modelled, it was termed an 'Indult' by the Bishops themselves in their petition to the Holy See: and, as we know from canon 1253 as well as from canon 4, Indults of the kind are in no way affected by the new legislation. It will be remembered, however, that the permission takes effect only outside Lent. As to what will happen on the Saturdays of next Lent we can only speculate. From canons 1244-5, Bishops-and from canon 1245 parish priests also-are to have very extensive faculties in connexion with both fast and abstinence: but, unfortunately, these faculties, in so far as they differ from the old, are not to come into operation till next Pentecost Sunday. On the 29th of January last, the Pope allowed the transference of the Lenten abstinence from Saturday to Wednesday, but, as is clear from the words of the decree, the privilege was confined to the present year. The Bishops, we take it, will fall back, in case of need, on the special faculties they still retain. Or, possibly, some more satisfactory arrangement may be arrived at with the Holy See before the problem becomes pressing.

1 See below, p. 376. There can, of course, be no doubt whatever about the abolition on the vigil of SS. Peter and Paul (see above, pp. 358, 359).

2 For the Irish and Scotch Indults, see the I. E. RECORD (Fourth Series,

vol. xxxii.), 1912, September (p. 309) and October (p. 416).

* Cf. I. E. RECORD (March, 1917), Fifth Series, vol. ix. p. 247.

« PrécédentContinuer »