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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 Catholic Church has decreased the austerity of Lent over the centuries so much that Islamic Ramadan now appears as more challenging than Lent. Let’s take a look at Ramadan compared to Medieval Lent.
Rules - Islamic - Ramadan
Rules for Islamic Ramadan:
Duration? 29-30 days during the entire month of during the entire month of Ramadan.
Rules - Break - Dawn
Fasting rules? Fasting completely from the break of dawn until sunset:
Rules for Medieval Quadragesima or “Lent”:
Nota - Standards - Roman - Church - Churches
Nota bene: I’m using the standards of the Roman Church. The Eastern Churches have had various disciplines by jurisdiction. For this article, we are focusing only on the Roman rules. Perhaps we’ll study the Eastern fasting rules in a future post.
Duration? 46 days. 40 Days plus 6 Sundays in the Roman Church.
Rules - Medieval - Lenten - Rules - Saint
Fasting rules? Medieval Lenten rules (as described Saint Thomas Aquinas) were as follows:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday were black fasts: no food at all.
Food - Hour - Christ - Practice - Till
No food from waking until 3pm (the hour when Christ died). This practice of fasting till 3pm goes back to the 5th century (see Socrates’ Church History V.22).
No animal meat or fats (no lard).
Fish - Click - Theology - Fish - Meat
Fish was allowed. Click here to understand the theology of why fish was is allowed, but not meat.
Lacticinia - Dairy - Products - Milk - Cheese
No lacticinia or “dairy products”: milk, cheese, cream, and butter. However, Catholics of the British Isles before the arrival of Saint Augustine of Canterbury were still consuming dairy products and perhaps eggs during Lent. Roman influence brought this to an end.
Wine and beer were allowed.
Europeans - Lent - Bread - Vegetables - Salt
Medieval Europeans during Lent subsisted on bread, vegetables, and salt.
No sexual intercourse between spouses. Pagan kings were pretty pissed to learn about this after they married hot Catholic princesses.
Sundays - Rules
No Sundays off. All these rules...
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