This Sunday before Ash Wednesday was once familiarly known as “Forty Hours” Sunday on account of the Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which took place at this time of the year. The background to this Forty Hours Devotion is explained in this St. Andrew’s Missal note (1961 edition): 

The Devotion of the “Forty Hours” On Quinquagesima Sunday and the two following days solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is held in most churches. This devotion originated from the 40 hours Jesus passed in the tomb: in some countries the Blessed Sacrament is still “buried” in a kind of sepulcher on Good Friday, and solemnly taken out of it on Easter Sunday in the very early morning. This devotion was later transferred to the three days before Ash Wednesday to atone for the excesses of “Carnival”: this new form of devotion is attributed to either St. Anthony-Mary Zaccaria (+1539) or to the Caputchin Father Joseph a Ferno (about 1636); it was regulated by the “Clementine Bull” of Clement XI (1705) and enriched with Indulgences by Clement XIII (1765). In some dioceses, this devotion is kept in the various churches at different times in the year, so as to form a chain of “Perpetual Adoration”.  

In the history of the Lourdes Apparitions it was on this “Forty Hours” Sunday (February 14th in 1858) that Bernadette received her second Apparition at the grotto of Massabielle. When her mysterious visitor appeared Bernadette flung holy water at her and challenged her: “If you come from God then stay!” By a smile, the vision affirmed that she was indeed from God.  


Days of Abstinence Days of Abstinence
Begins on one's 14th birthday.
Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.
Obliges abstention from flesh meat.

Days of Penance
Applies to all the Faithful.
Lent and Fridays outside of Lent.

Days of Fast
Everyone aged 18-59.
1 full meal permitted, two other meals may be taken which, when combined, are less than a full meal.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday

(The obligation to do penance is lifted on Fridays which are also celebrated sa a solemnity: e.g., Christmas Day).
Applies on one's 7th birthday.
Complete Abstinence on all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, and the Vigil of Christmas.
Partial Abstinence (meat and soup, or gray made from permitted once a day at principal meal.)
Lent, Ember Days of Wednesday & Saturday, Vigils of Pentecost & Assumption.
Abstinence dispensed on Holy Days of Obligation.

Days of Fast
Everyone aged 21-59.
Days of Lent from Ash Wednesday on, Ember Days, Vigils of Christmas, Pentecost and the Assumption.
One full meal permitted, with 2 smaller meals.

Fr. Higgins

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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Christian Life

"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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