Lent and Easter Obligations
As Posted on the Military Archdiocese Website
Christian faithful are to do penance through prayer, fasting, abstinence and by exercising works of piety and charity. All Fridays through the year, and especially during Lent, are penitential days.
All who have reached their 14th birthday are to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during Lent.
All those who are 18 and older, until their 59th birthday, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Only one full meal is allowed on days of fast. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one's needs. But together, they should not equal a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed.
The obligation does not apply to those whose health or ability to work would be seriously affected. People in doubt about fast or abstinence should consult a parish priest. The obligation does not apply to military personnel in deployed or hostile environments in which they have no control over meals.
All Catholics are to worthily receive Holy Communion at least once in the time period beginning on the First Sunday of Lent and ending on Trinity Sunday.
Distribution of Ashes
The distribution of Ashes should take place in a sacred place such as a church or a chapel. The Order for the Distribution of Ashes provides that ashes should be distributed:
1. During Mass following the homily
2. At a (Catholic) Service of the Word
The Minister for Distribution of Blessed Ashes is a priest, a deacon, or a Catholic lay person.
On this day the Church invites us to receive a cross of ashes on our foreheads as a sign that during the coming days of Lent we will make a sincere effort to cleanse our lives of sin and to discipline ourselves through prayer and fasting.
Who May Receive Ashes?
Baptized individuals who have reached the age of reason. Babies and young children who have not yet received the Sacrament of Penance should not be presented to receive ashes since ashes are intended for those who are capable of personal sin. The observance of Ash Wednesday is intended to lead the baptized members of the Church to repentance and renewal of baptismal promises at Easter.
Ashes and the RCIA
All baptized Christians - those baptized in other Christian Churches and baptized but uncatechised Catholics - should receive ashes as part of their preparation for completing their initiation. It might be better if Catechumens joined in the celebration but did not receive ashes since they are not baptized. As they observe their baptized brothers and sisters acknowledging their sin, they might be encouraged on their journey to baptism to know that they too might come to need to repent after their baptism and the Church offers this opportunity through the annual observance of Lent and the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Time of the Easter Vigil
According to the rubrics, the time to begin the Easter Vigil is after nightfall. (General Norms for the Liturgical Year, 21) Darkness is a constitutive element of the Vigil. Therefore,
"... this rule is to be followed in the strictest sense. The Easter Vigil is not to be celebrated at the same time of day that is customary to celebrate anticipated Sunday Masses ..." (Ordo).
The Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) responds that the Easter Vigil should not begin any earlier than 30-45 minutes after Nautical Twilight.
AMS priest-chaplains by virtue of their office as chaplain MUST Confirm someone beyond infancy whom they baptize, or someone already validly baptized in a non-Catholic faith group whom they bring into full communion with the Catholic Church. (c.866; 883,2)
Priest-chaplains are reminded that Sacraments must not be conferred until any irregularity in a person's marriage has been corrected. Involvement in the RCIA process does not exempt one from this obligation. Priest-chaplains should make this requirement known to all who seek entrance into the RCIA process.