Guide For Lent

Don PérezMarch 06, 2020

The focus of this Season is the Cross and penance, as we imitate Christ’s forty days of fasting, like Moses and Elias before Him, and await the triumph of Easter. We fast, abstain, mortify the flesh, give alms, and think more of charitable works. waking up each morning with the thought, “How might I make amends for my sins? How can I serve God in a reparative way? How can I serve others today?” is the attitude to have. The more we give, the more we can ask God.


The Guide

General Rules

Minimal Requirement Level.

Recommended Level

Leo XIII Industrial Level

Early Church / Medieval Level

Desert Fathers Level

The Guide

Lent is a time for prayer, penance, goodwill, and willingness to sacrifice some basic comforts in order to be closer to god. Set these 40 days to be trained to fight, trained to trust. We want to be free from the slavery of sin. Now it’s time to move to victory. This the opportunity to jumpstart your spiritual life again, It’s a true Spiritual Battle and our weapons are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving against All Temptations, the Virtue of Mortification is essential.

Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, humility, penance, contrition, and conversion of ourselves.

  • Prayer and Humility, against the Devil

5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:5-6

  • Fasting and abstinence, against our Flesh

16 “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 18 so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Matthew 6:16-18

  • Almsgiving and Detachment, against the World.

2"When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you". Matthew 6:2-4

Let us pray. Grant us, O Lord, to begin with holy fasts the campaign of our Christian warfare: that, as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of selfdenial. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Final prayer of the blessing of the Ashes).

General Rules

First ask your spiritual director, typical confessor, or your priest about it beforehand, so you can do it in a healthier and prudent way because he can check if you are doing it out of your own pride and not because Love of God, to check the necessity and security of it.

  • Be Prudent, Better you promise yourself less than you do, than promising more than you actually do, there are some acts that can be pretty dangerous, unhealthy, and can actually harm your spiritual life because you are pushing yourself too hard. If you are pregnant or nursing, don’t do it.
  • Be Humble, Keep your inner life — including your ascetical works — private. Something good for us to do for Lent might be to mortify this urge to be known. To learn to interiorize Philip’s most memorable axiom “to love to be unknown.”, “Don’t lose the merit” and learn to keep it secret, and keep it safe. in general, as Christ said:

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father" Matthew 6:1 “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mt 17:21)

  • Be constant, changing too much what you ought to do for lent, you may fall into doing what you want to do, not what you should, this is especially important when we try to root out a particular vice.
  • Sacrifice, doesn’t have to be a bad thing necessarily, it can be a good thing that you love, and it’s good, its a sacrifice we give to God to prepare ourselves for His passion.

You need to fulfill first your own obligations and duties before you go harder, that can be something to do for the lazy people, to finally to do well their own duties, be punctual, etc…

Minimal Requirement Level.

Pope Paul VI’s 1966 Apostolic Constitution of Paenitemini changed Lenten practice to what it is today:

  • No meat (only fish) allowed on Fridays in Lent.
  • Everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 inclusive is bound to observe the law of fast and since the ages of 14 the law of abstinence
  • 1 meal and 2 collations (small meals) allowed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • No Eating between meals
  • When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. Mothers who are pregnant or nursing are always exempt. In doubt concerning your obligation to fast and abstain, consult the parish priest or confessor

General recommended Level

The rest of the levels are not obligatory but greatly recommended because it gives a lot of graces and benefits. Try to make this Lent much better than the last, it has to change to you interiorly.

After the 40 days of Lent, hopefully, we have spiritually grown and have been renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus brought about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the whole Church. This is the happy destination (being filled up with the Holy Spirit) we are trying to reach after the 40 days of traveling through the desert of Lent.

Sacraments, Prayer, and Holy readings


  • Be more devout of Holy Mass. Meditate the Sunday scriptures before Sunday Mass. Go to mass during a workday, or even better, every day. It takes a lot of discipline to get up early to go to Holy Mass, but the fruits are well worth it. There is no greater prayer than the prayer of Jesus to the Father through the Holy Spirit in the Latin Mass in which we participate, if you don’t have Latin Mass, try to go to the most reverent Novus Ordo, if you really cannot go, do acts of spiritual communion every day.
  • Confession: Start lent with a General Confession. It’s about going to confession and confessing all the sins of one’s past life (or of an extended period, like the past year) instead of just those sins committed since one’s previous confession. so you can start Lent with the clearest and clean heart, at least do a general review so you know better what you really need to do in lent and not just what you want.

Take your time to go back to do a very humble and sorrowful Confession. Take the time to go over a very good Examination of Conscience every day and write down your sins so as to not forget them. Often we get nervous in the confessional and can forget them. Stating how many times and when was the last time you committed the sins. This helps the confessor to give you the right penance and to help you root out these vices. Go to confession–every week, every other week

For example: if you see pornography and self-pleasure yourself every day, compared to once having seen a dirty picture a year ago, there is an enormous difference. Never ever conceal sins because of shame. Especially be sorrowful for sacrilegious sins like having received Holy Communion with a mortal sin on your soul.


  • Make time for heartfelt prayer. Talk heart to heart with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This is best done in front of the Blessed Sacrament, during a Eucharistic Adoration. If for some reason you cannot go to a church, pray at home facing where ever the closest Tabernacle is in a nearby church. Then have faith that God has heard your prayers.

If you didn’t have a strong prayer discipline, get a Daily prayer plan, what to pray Morning, during the day, evening and before bed: (e.g., Morning Offering, Rosary, Angelus, etc.), there are many ways to have a life of prayer even if you are very busy with the great ejaculatory prayers.

-Holy readings

  • Read the Bible. Read and meditate on all that led up to the passion and crucifixion of Jesus. Each Gospel depicts the passion and crucifixion a little differently, there are many bible lists for the Lenten season, Pray the Stations of the Cross Slowly. Take yourself back in time to the Holy Land, retracing the steps of Jesus on His way to Calvary. Search for a good traditional pamphlet on the Stations and use it. This is usually done on Friday, but it would also be good to do every day of lent.
  • Read a traditional Catholic book of meditations, The season of Lenten discipline is a very good time to retrain the brain to focus on reading, there are some books and lenten readings which cover lent day by day and other good Like the “Imitation of Christ” or “The Secret of the Rosary“. Any book that will encourage and inspire you to be happier, holier, and helps you with the mortification and fasting, also there are many sermons made by the Fathers of The Church on the topic, also lists to read the Church Fathers 10-15 minutes each day. Examples of good readings :
  1. Meditations for Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas. (One page and a little more for each day, great if you are busy)
  2. Pope St. Leo the Great’s Sermons on Lent.
  3. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, by St. John of the Cross
  4. Preparation for Death, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.
  5. The Lenten Gospels for Daily Meditation During the Holy Season of Lent

Traditionally, Lent is the penitential season when the faithful are encouraged by the Church to contemplate the Four Last Things — Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell — so readings related to those are recomended.

Fasting and abstinence

Fast something luxurious or precious for you. Many Catholics and Christians have been taught to give up something for Lent. This does not have to do with food, choosing to forgo another luxury or indulgence would be significant.

The practices one gives up and takes on during Lent should center around eliminating a particular vice, or bad habit, one has, and focus on cultivating the vice’s opposite virtue, or good habit. Anything that can purify your life, you can also mortify yourself from a good.

  • Disconnect from social media, fast from Facebook, blogs, and use your Cell Phone, computer, to a minimum. Replace 30 Minutes of TV or Screen Time with 30 Extra Minutes of Devotion/Prayer Time. Do concrete measures to moderate the use if it’s necessary to use it . We need to be connected to God instead, not the internet and the cell phone. Help your children to not use video games and electronic devices at all. If you haven’t already disconnected cable and TV antennas, lent is the perfect time to do this, (and for good). There is no good left on TV. At least check all the Sermons on Lent by the Traditionalist Channel Sensus Fidelium.
  • On your duties of life. To avoid procrastination. It doesn’t need to be a grand mortification every time, things like getting out of bed immediately after waking and not dallying under the blankets in the morning. Go sleep earlier
  • Stop watching the news. Instead, use this time to pray for the world governments and cultural leaders. What good does it do us to be depressed over all the evil things going on in the world that we have no control over? What good does it do to be aware of the weather? This time can be much better used to love and communicate with our families and make our home a happier world where they can see the difference. Use the time to eat and play together as a family. Take time to communicate with each other and love each other more.
  • To Fight against the reigning consumerism and materialism, Think about what you usually spend your money on. Do you buy too many clothes? are your clothes immodest? Spend too much on dinner out? do you have some “guilty pleasure” of Impure books/television/movies/music you consume?
  • Fast by eating healthy and as a family. Do not be picky about your food. Make a firm promise to absolutely not buy any fast food (Fast from Fast Foods). No pizza either, especially Pepperoni (meat) on Friday. Sacrifice time to make delicious healthy homemade meals that everyone can enjoy. Stay away from desserts and sodas. Set the table and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Especially if you are lazy. work out daily to take care of the body God gave you. Spend this time focusing on taking care of the body that God gave you. For Lent, commit to doing some kind of workout every single day. You can go on a walk or join a gym, or even workout at home.
  • Take your own cross, your own sufferings, and do not complain, purge your pride and vanity with humility, the litany of humility shows a good example of this.

1962 Fast Practice:

  • Go back to the Old Eucharistic Fast, 3 hours of total fast before communion, and recommended midnight fast.
  • Ash Wednesday, all Fridays, and Holy Saturday: fasting and total abstinence. This means one meatless meal – with two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day – and no snacking.
  • All days of lent: fasting and partial abstinence from meat. This means one meal – with two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day – and no snacking, but meat can be eaten at the principal meal.

Almsgiving and Charity

Charity is usually left apart during Lent but can be the real challenge we ought to take in this period. Fasting releases us from our earthly chains, prayer fills us up with God’s nectar and Charity is the sharing of this Good with those who most need our gifts.

  • Forgive and Pray for those who have hurt you. Forgive everything from the past, once and forever. Holding on to pain from our childhood, our parish, our spouses, do more harm to our spiritual life than you can imagine. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, “Love your enemy”, “Pray for those who persecute you”, Jesus. Pray for all those who are destroying Catholic doctrine and liturgy too.
  • Lent is a particularly good time to otherwise make amends and rebuild broken relationships. the Reparations I need to make, the people to whom I have to make them, and how I will do it. Pray for the ability to truly forgive the repentant who’ve wronged you, and consider those whom you’ve wronged and whose forgiveness you should seek. This includes family problems, really think about how to be more charitable with those family members which you have problems. Ask for a contrite and humble heart, and for the fortitude to make right what you’ve done wrong.
  • Spend time with your family. In the same regard as fasting also charity has degrees. It depends on where you are right now with your spiritual charity life. If for instance, your family life is complicated, if you spend little time with your son, wife, friends, grandmother choose as almsgiving to dedicate some specific time to them.
  • During Lent is a good time to help contribute back to your local community. We can help those less fortunate than ourselves by volunteering our time, we can offer goods such as food, clothing, and bedding to the less fortunate, with the money saved from fasting and abstinence to local charities.
  • Stop taking the Salvation of The World on your Shoulders. Jesus is the savior of the world. We are just to help those with whom we have influence. And let us not forget, salvation starts with our own souls and family. Every time you get depressed about the pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity, get down on your knees and pray about it. Then, give it over to God, Mary, and the Saints to take care of it. We only do whatever we can to peacefully reform and renew the Church. Then, we let God do the rest. We are not God. Invite people this lent to attend a Latin Mass, Traditional Retreat, or Traditional group. Chill out and have more joy. God is still in charge of the Church and the world. We are only His humble servants.
  • Charity on praying for others, one practice you can do, every time you see someone asks for prayer, stop there and do at least one Our Father, Ave Maria and Gloria for that intention. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
  • To do the 7 spiritual & 7 corporal works of Mercy. They are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.

-Spiritual works of mercy : Admonish the Sinner, Instruct the Ignorant, Counsel the Doubtful, Bear Wrongs Patiently, Forgive Offenses Willingly, Comfort the Afflicted and Pray for the Living and the Dead.

- Corporal works of mercy: Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Visit the Sick, Visit the Imprisoned, Bury the Dead

It is helpful to work with a friend or partner on the spiritual works of mercy, bearing each other’s burdens and keeping each other accountable to Lenten promises.

Historical Levels

This is written as informative, not necessarily to follow, we invite you to focus on the recommended level for practical tips on your actual lent. This must be watched over by a spiritual director.

Only after you aren’t in habitual mortal sin and you have fulfilled the recommended level, you can step up to the next level.

Leo XIII Industrial Level

Under Leo XIII the rule of fast became more relaxed, some people say it was because of the industrial revolution, people, in general, we’re working very hard, in factories, in mines, very long hours with little breaks, with horrible working conditions in general.

  • From Ash Wednesday until easter, no meat
  • Yes, dairy and eggs, etc…
  • Allow cooking with melted fat, like frying vegetables with bacon fat.
  • Eucharistic Fast: Total Fast from Midnight until the Reception of Holy Communion

Especially this would be recommended by those who have hard work hours, it would be a prudent way to do it.

Early Church / Medieval Level

I have been told that medieval Christians would ridicule the Islamic season of fasting called Ramadan as weak, effeminate, and easy when compared to the austere Christian season of fasting during Lent or Quadragesima. The rules for Lenten penance as described by St. Thomas Aquinas:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday were “black fasts.” This means no food at all.
  • Other days of Lent: no food until 3 pm, the hour of Our Lord’s death, after the Vespers. Water was allowed, After the advent of tea and coffee, these beverages were permitted. This practice of fasting till 3 pm goes back to the 5th century (see Socrates’ Church History V.22).
  • No animal meats or fats.
  • Suspension of courts - Let us dwell on the season during which not only amusements and spectacles were forbidden by public authority, but even the courts were closed so as not to disturb the peace and silence of the passions, so favorable to the sinner so that he might repair the wounds of his soul and arrange for his reconciliation with God.
  • Fish was allowed but not meat (why?), some even ate birds too, because they were created at the same time as fish.
  • No eggs, No dairy products (lacticinia) – that is, eggs, milk, cheese, cream, butter, etc. First, it was relaxed for the Crusaders alone.
  • Sundays they are still penitential were days of less liturgical discipline, but the fasting rules above remained.
  • Wine and beer were allowed for the case for the time due to sanitary concerns, watered-down beer, and wine.
  • Medieval Europeans during Lent subsisted on bread, vegetables, and salt.
  • No sexual intercourse between spouses.
  • No Sundays off. All these rules apply for 46 days. The 6 Sundays in Lent were relaxed liturgically (less penitential), but the fasting and abstinence were not relaxed on Sundays.
  • For the Good Friday black fast, many would begin fast from Maundy Thursday night till about noon on Saturday. The Easter Vigil was usually celebrated about noon on Saturday and this ended the Lenten fasting officially.
  • Prohibition of hunting. - For many years, Lent was considered incompatible with hunting, due to the dissipation and tumult that accompanies it.
  • Truce of God - The admirable institution of the Truce of God, by which the Church in the eleventh century succeeded throughout Europe in putting a stop to the effusion of blood, by suspending the bearing of arms. This ordinance, sanctioned by the authority of the Popes and councils, with the concurrence of all Christian princes, was a mere extension, each week of the year, of the discipline, by virtue of which all military activity was forbidden in Lent.

Desert Fathers Level

The most Hardcore.

  • No Eating until 3 pm, the None Hour.
  • Xerophagy, to only eats dry foods:

-Nothing fried or boiled

-No animal foods at all.

This is more well-known in the east than in the western church, but in the canons of saint John the faster, he said as a disciplinary measure. Any monk caught committing homosexual acts, had to live on Xerophagy for 3 years along with other punishments.


St. Philip Neri, his spiritual approach and his program of the spiritual life in relation to Lenten Sacrifices.

Sensus Fidelium, always posts great lent videos.