THE Roman Catholic claims the “power to command feasts and holy days,” and to “command them under sin.” That is, the church claims the power to ordain holy days and the manner of their observance, and the power to pronounce any disobedience of these commands to be sin, which, if not repented of, results in the eternal ruin of the disobedient one. With this assumption of the church in view, a few observations regarding the law of the church regulating Lent, just past, may be interesting and profitable.
The following are the commands of the church regulating the fast of Lent, as promulgated by Cardinal Gibbons:—
1. All the faithful who have completed their twenty-first year, unless exempt by dispensation or some other legitimate cause, are bound to observe the fast of Lent.
2. They are to make one meal only a day, except on Sundays.
3. A small refreshment, commonly called collation, is permitted in the evening.
5. The following persons are exempt from the obligation of fasting: Persons under twenty-one years of age, the sick, nursing women, those who are obliged to do hard labor, and those who, through weakness, cannot fast, without great prejudice to their health.
6. The faithful are reminded that, besides the obligation of fasting imposed by the church, this holy season of Lent should be, in an especial manner, a time of earnest prayer, of sorrow for sin, of seclusion from the world and its amusements, and of generous almsgiving.
Let it be remembers that to disobey these commands of the cardinal is sin. The reader, unacquainted with the rules of the church, will think that these commands are very severe. However, the pope has granted an “indult,” that is, an indulgence to the Roman Catholics of the United States, by which they can violate the above commands, without sin, where others in less favored countries, should they disobey them, would be counted sinners. Here is the indulgence:— 
By virtue of an indult to the United States, dated August 2, 1887, the following special dispensations are granted:—
1. The use of flesh must be permitted at all meals on Sundays, and once a day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the exception of the second and last Saturdays of Lent. But flesh meat and fat are not to be used at the same meal during Lent, except on Sundays.
2. The use of butter, cheese, milk and eggs is also permitted every day in Lent.
3. It is allowed to take in the morning some warm liquid, as tea, coffee, or thin chocolate, made with water, and with this liquid a mouthful of bread.
4. Those for whom the hour of noon may be an inconvenient time for dinner, may invert the order and take their collation in the morning, and their dinner in the evening.
5. The use of hog’s lard, or dripping, instead of butter, is authorized in preparing permitted food.
6. Persons exempt from the obligations of fasting are free to take meat more than once on those days when its use is granted by dispensation.
The Paschal time extends from the first Sunday of Lent till Trinity Sunday, during which time all persons who have attained the proper age are bound to recite worthily the holy communion. The holy season of Lent is a very proper time also for children to make their first confession, which they ought to do generally about the age of seven years. Parents should see to this.
By order of his eminence the cardinal, W. A. REARDON,Chancellor.
Baltimore, Feb. 15, 1895.
It will be noticed that while it is a sin to eat flesh on certain days, it is not sin to eat fish. It will be interesting to note further what is included under the term “fish.”
The American Ecclesiastical Review, a Roman Catholic monthly, “published for the clergy,” with the authority of superiors (“cum approbationes superoum”), in its April issue, publishes the following question and answer:—
Qs. Does the privilege, which exists in the Southern States, of eating seal-duck on days of abstinence, extend to all parts of the country?
Resp…. Wherever this species of sea-fowl is commonly reckoned in the same category of food as turtles, lobster, frogs, oyster, etc., which though they cannot be called fish, are nevertheless held to be lenten food, there the practice of serving seal-duck is licit. Some regard as included in this category even the meat of beavers, otters, coots, and other semi-marine animals which live almost exclusively in the water and obtain their food there.
From this we learn that, according to the church of Rome, it is a sin to eat flesh on certain days, but it is not a sin to eat fish, seal-duck, turtles, lobsters, frogs, oysters, beavers, otters and coots. In other words, the church damns a man who eats beef or mutton, and commends him when he eats turtles, lobsters, frogs, oysters, beavers, otters and coots.
“Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), but the Roman Catholic Church has thought to change that law which the Lord, by the Psalmist, calls “perfect,” and by Paul calls “spiritual,” “holy,” “just,” and “good,” and has erected another standard of righteousness, a part of which declares that it is a sin to eat beef and mutton on certain days in certain countries, but righteousness to eat turtles, lobsters, frogs, oysters, beavers, otters and coots.
Oh that Roman Catholics would turn from the burdensome traditions of men to the law of God; from the “vicar of Christ” and “the virgin,” to Him who said, “Come unto me.”