A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Catholic Laity/Days of Obligation and Devotion

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A Table

of all the Feasts that are observed by the Catholics of the United States, with obligation of hearing Mass and abstaining from servile work.



1. The Circumcision of Our Lord, or New-Year's Day.


15. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


1. All Saints' Day.


8. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

25. The Nativity of our Lord, or Christmas Day.

Also Ascension Day, or the Thursday forty days after Easter.


On Fasting and Absinence


UR Holy Mother, the Catholic Church, does not leave her children without guidance, and to their own devices, in this important matter; she tells them not only when but how to fast and abstain, and the rules she has established are those inspired by her heavenly wisdom, and shaped and fashioned by centuries of practical experience. Every Catholic is bound to keep these mild and gentle rules first of all before any other form of bodily mortification can be worthily undertaken. If these are wilfully neglected, no amount of self-imposed austerity can ever make up the loss, or atone for the disobedience.

The Law of Abstinence affects only the kind of food, and has no reference to its quantity. On Abstinence days the faithful are obliged to abstain from flesh-meat only; the number of meals and the amount of food may be the same as on other days.

The Law of Fasting includes that of Abstinence, and adds special requirements of its own; it affects both the kind and the quantity of food. On Fasting-days, besides the obligation of abstaining from flesh-meat, the number and quantity of meals are restricted. Only one Full Meal is allowed, to be taken about noon or later. Besides this full meal a collation of eight ounces is allowed. If the full meal is taken about the middle of the day, the collation will naturally be taken in the evening; if the full meal is taken late in the day, the collation may be taken about noon. Besides the full meal and collation, general custom has made it lawful to take about two ounces of bread (without butter) and a cup of some warm liquid—as coffee or tea—in the morning. This is important to observe, for by means of this many persons are enabled—and therefore obliged—to keep the fast who could not otherwise do so.

It should be borne in mind that these practices of Fasting and Abstinence are not merely penitential works of counsel, recommended to our observance, but acts of mortification of precept, enjoined by laws binding strictly on the conscience; and therefore not to be evaded or omitted without Mortal Sin. Various reasons, however, may exist for excuse or dispensation from these laws (especially from the law of fasting), which are commonly noted in the published "Regulations for Lent" in every Diocese. But as to abstinence, legitimate excuses are very few; and generally no one can proceed safely in excusing himself from abstinence before consulting his confessor.


All the Fridays of the Year.

Note.— When a Friday happens to be Christmas Day, it is not a day of abstinence.


1. The Fridays of Advent.[1]

2. Every Day in Lent; except Sundays.

3. The Four Quarter-Tenses, or Ember-Days, viz.: The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following—1. the first Sunday in Lent; 2. Whitsunday; 3. the fourteenth day of September; and, 4. the third Sunday of Advent.

4. The Vigils of Whitsunday, of the Assumption, of All Saints, and of Christmas.

Note.—When a Fasting-day falls upon a Sunday, it is kept on the Saturday previous.


Wherein Marriages are not Solemnized.

From Advent Sunday until the Epiphany and from Ash Wednesday until Low Sunday.


  1. In some Dioceses (as in the Province of New Orleans) the Fridays of Advent are not fasting-days.