A tougher Quadragesima

As I thought about writing this blog, before writing it, I was thinking this would come across as being boastful. So I’d like to preface today’s blog by saying I’m a sinful man who’s on a journey with a long way to go. Thank God He’s patient and gives this turtle (me) time to get better. Proverbs 24:16 mentions that the righteous man sins 7 times a day. I’m pretty sure I’m nowhere close to 7.

Now with that said, we’re underway with the Quadragesima season. If you’re not familiar with the word Quadragesima, it’s the old school word for Lent. We use the word Lent as a new liturgical word and its roots are based on the weather (lengthening of the daytime each following day).

Since “going old school” is the theme for this blog, let’s mention some Catholic common practices during Quadragesima back in the medieval days! Currently, catholics are required to make sacrifices on Ash Wednesday and on the Fridays of “Lent.” As well as another sacrifice of your choice. Those familiar with church history know the requirements have been getting easier and easier all the way to the present day. But let’s get medieval today.

In medieval times, meat, dairy and eggs were all required to be given up EVERY day of the Quadragesima season. And you couldn’t have ANY food until 3pm. And married couples couldn’t have the conjugal act (sex). On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, you couldn’t eat AT ALL. There’s more details to all the sacrifices but these are some of the major ones.

And there was no break from your sacrifices on Sundays. I know it’s debated in circles about whether you should have reprieve on Sunday’s. The argument for reprieve is that: 1) Sundays are joyful because it’s always the day of the Resurrection and 2) take out the Sundays and you get 40 days which is a biblical number. In the spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas’ style of arguing, I’ll provide a response to each of those arguments. Replying to argument #1, Sunday can be BOTH joyful AND penitential. They don’t necessarily contradict each other. Although hedonists would argue differently. Replying to #2, even in today’s current Liturgical calendar the Sundays are referred to as “first Sunday of Lent”, “Second Sunday of Lent”, and so on. The proof is in the name itself. And my personal favorite argument for not taking Sundays off is because they didn’t take it off during Medieval times. #oldSchool

Now you might also be thinking that it’s not reasonable to be this hardcore due to the effects of headaches and the lessening of energy. And I understand how tough headaches can be since the band, Twenty Pilots, says in their song, Migraine, that sometimes death seems better than the migraine in his head…But (and I’m aware that this may come across as cold) remember that Jesus said He’s strong in us when we are weak! So don’t be afraid to be weak, low on energy, and full of headaches!

On a final note (which is the part that made me state the preface), I find the medieval practice liberating. Why would we want Ramadan to be tougher than our practice? Our medieval practice is tougher than Ramadan by the way. But that’s not the only liberating aspect. It’s hard to be spiritually tough while being physically comforted all the time. At least for me that is. #AndLliftWeightsWhileYouAreAtIt #neverSkipLegDay #neverEver #notEvenInHeaven

Bonus: fasting from meat should also help lower testosterone which is greatly appreciated by me at least. (Source: St. Thomas Aquinas and even some current scientific studies!)

Go medieval my brothers and sisters and offer it up for our Church, the Holy Father, and the souls in purgatory,

Mike Panlilio

6 thoughts on “A tougher Quadragesima”

  1. I think I grew up in a medieval house!
    We ate nothing especially on Good Friday and fasts were real! No meat on Fridays!
    So technically, by the fasting laws, I’m now exempt though! A good “exercise” give till it hurts!
    Crazy blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mike,

    Good to know, I guess, that more severe penance is possible: no meat, dairy or eggs any day of Lent, no food at all on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and no conjugal relations for those who are married. In my case only the first two would apply. It is interesting to think: the custom in medieval times was for these harsher penances, but I wonder why? Was such a practice requested by God to his faithful or were there circumstantial considerations, such as meat, dairy and eggs being less available?

    Your post provokes questions on penitential practice.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Leo,

      I love the questions. I don’t know but you’ve whetted my appetite to find out! I’ll let you know if I find out. I do recall one of Peter Kreeft’s books talking about how back in Roman times, people commonly had the the hard virtues like courage but not the soft virtues like kindness and compassion. Whereas today, it’s reversed with the soft virtues being common and the hard virtues not as much. Obviously, both are needed and necessary…also, I know that our word for 12pm, “noon” comes from “none”, the Latin word in the Roman Breviary for the ninth hour after Lauds which is at 6am. So none used to be at 3pm but monks wanted their fasts to end earlier and bright it to 12pm where we have noon now…I just know things started out hard and gradually eased up to the way they are now…it would be very interesting to find out more around it.

      Much love and prayers to you, brother!


      1. Thanks for the reply, Mike. It is true: we must have the “hard” and “soft” virtues so that we are complete in Jesus Christ. He, of course, has all virtues!

        You bring up a good point that we should admire and in some cases imitate the practices of the medieval Church. We live in the age of Our Lady of Fatima, who exhorts us to follow God’s commandments and live in accordance with our daily duty. It is good that we can be heroic, in choosing a life of penance that uses our gifts and strengths to the full, it is also good that we can be docile, and learn from the heroes, those saints that walked in the perfection of life.

        Hope to see you at our next Chapter meeting.

        In St. Dominic,


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Love all that! Yes, I should be able to make it to the next meeting as my work hours on Sundays has been moved to Saturdays for the next ten week cycling! God bless you, Leo!


        Liked by 1 person

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