Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/95

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ABSTINENCE
ABSTINENCE
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of the priest's fingers at the end of Mass. In these cases the use of wine is an ecclesiastical law from whose observance the Church has power to dispense. A decree of Propaganda, dated 13 January, 1665, grants a dispensation in this sense to missionaries in China, on account of the scarcity of wine; various similar rulings are to be found in the collection of the decrees of the Congregation of Rites. Abstention from the use of wine has, occasionally, been declared obligatory by heretics. It was one of the tenets of Gnosticism in the second century. Tatian, the founder of the sect known as the Encratites, forbade the use of wine, and his adherents refused to make use of it even in the Sacrament of the Altar; in its place they used water. These heretics, mentioned by St. Irenæus (Adv. Hær., I, xxx), are known as Hydroparastes, Aquarians, and Encratites. The great Manichean heresy followed a few years later. These heretics, in their turn, professed the greatest possible aversion to wine, as one of the sources of sin. St. Augustine, in his book against heresies, ch. xlvi, says of them, "Vinum non bibunt, dicentes esse fel principum tenebrarum"—"They drink no wine, for they say it is the gall of the princes of darkness." They made use of water in celebrating Mass. At the beginning of the Reformation, one of the grievances alleged against the Church was that she did not allow the faithful to communicate under both kinds. "We excuse the Church", so runs the Augsburg Confession, "which has suffered the injustice of only receiving under one kind, not being able to have both; but we do not excuse the authors of this injustice, who maintain that it was right to forbid the administering of the complete Sacrament." How, then, were those to be admitted to the Lord's Table, who were unable to communicate under the species of wine? A decree of the Synod of Poitiers, in 1560, reads: "The Bread of the Lord's Supper shall be administered to those who cannot drink the wine, on condition that they shall declare that they do not abstain out of contempt." Other Protestant synods also lay down the rule that persons unable to take wine shall be admitted to the Lord's Table on condition that they shall at least touch with their lips the cup which holds the species of wine; Jurieu, on the other hand, starting from the principle that Christ has founded the essence of the Eucharist on the two species, held that an abstemius does not receive the Sacrament, because it consists of two parts, and he receives only one. A great controversy ensued among the Protestants themselves on this point. Bossuet held that communion under both kinds could not be of divine obligation, since many would thereby be deprived of the Sacrament owing to a natural weakness.

Benedicto Ojetti, Synopsis Rerum Moralium et Juris Pontificii (1904); Theologia Moralis Sti. Alphonsi, Lib. VII, 409; Collectanea S. Congregationis de Propagandâ Fide, N. 798; Bossuet, La Tradition défendue sur la matière de la communion sous une espèce, VI; Jerome in Dict. de théol. cath., s.v.; Abstème; Corblet, Hist. du Sacrement de l'Eucharistie (Paris, 1886).

Abstinence.—Inasmuch as abstinence signifies abstaining from food, the Bible narrative points to the first instance wherein such a course of conduct was imposed by law (Gen., ii, l6, 17). The obvious purpose of this mandate was to lead the moral head of the human race to recognize the necessary dependence of creature upon Creator. The hour which witnessed the transgression of this law marked an increase in the debt which the creature owed the Creator. Adam's disobedience rendered all men criminal, and liable to the necessity of appeasing God's justice. To meet this new exigency nature dictated the necessity of penance; positive legislation determined the ways and means whereby this natural obligation would best be concreted. The chief results of this determination are positive statutes concerning fasting and abstinence. Laws relating to fasting are principally intended to define what pertains to the quantity of food allowed on days of fasting, while those regulating abstinence, what refers to the quality of viands. In some instances both obligations coincide; thus, the Fridays of Lent are days of fasting and abstinence. In other instances the law of abstinence alone binds the faithful; thus ordinary Fridays are simply days of abstinence. The purpose of this article is to trace the history of ecclesiastical legislation regarding the law of abstinence, as well as to examine the motives which underlie this legislation.

The Bible: Abstinence in The Old Testament.—Fasting implying abstinence was ordained by law for the Day of Atonement (Lev., xvi, 29 sq.). The ceremony incident to this feast was observed by the Jews on the fifth day before the feast of Tabernacles. From evening of the ninth until evening of the tenth day labour and eating were strictly prohibited. Besides this passage the sacred narrative contains many others which show how adversity moved the Jews to assume the burden of fasting and abstinence in a spirit of penance (Judges, xx, 26; Judith, vi, 20; Joel, i, 14; ii, 15). Moreover, the Jews abstained on the ninth day of the fourth month, because on that day Nabuchodonosor captured Jerusalem (Jer., lii, 6); on the tenth day of the fifth month, because on that day the temple was burned (Jer., lii, 12 sq.); on the third day of the seventh month, because on that day Godolias had been murdered (Jer., xli, 2); and on the tenth day of the tenth month, because on that day the Chaldees commenced the siege of Jerusalem (IV Kings, xxv, 1 sq.). They were told that fidelity to these regulations would bring joy, gladness, and great solemnities to the house of Juda (Zach., viii, 19). During the month of new corn they were obliged to spend seven days without leaven, and to eat the bread of affliction in memory of their delivery from Egypt (Deut., xvi, 3). In addition to those indications concerning the seasons of abstinence amongst the Jews, the sacred text contains passages regarding the ways and means whereby the law of abstinence assumed more definite shape amongst them. After the deluge God said to Noe: "Everything that moveth upon the earth shall be a meat for you, saving that flesh with blood you shall not eat" (Gen., ix, 3, 4; similar passages are contained in Lev., vii, 26 sq.; xvii, 14 sq.; Deut., xii, 15, 16). A prohibition whereby corn, oil, wine, and the first-born of herds and cattle are forbidden in towns is set forth in Deut., xii, 17. Priests were forbidden to drink any intoxicant lest they die (Lev., x, 9). The eleventh chapter of Leviticus contains a detailed enumeration of the various beasts, birds, and fish that fall under the ban. Such were reputed unclean. Abstinence from things legally unclean was intended to train the Israelites in the pursuit of spiritual cleanness.

The Old Testament furnishes several instances of celebrated personages who betook themselves to this chastisement of the flesh. David kept fast on account of the child born of the wife of Urias (II Kings, xii, 16); Esther humbled her body with fasts (Esth., xiv, 2); Judith fasted all the days of her life (Jud., viii, 6); Daniel ate neither bread nor flesh till the days of three weeks were accomplished (Dan., x, 3), and Judas Machabeus and all the people craved mercy in tears and fasting (II Mach., xiii, 12). Moreover, Esdras commanded a fast by the river Ahava (I Esd., viii, 21). The King of Ninive proclaimed a fast in Ninive whereby neither man nor beasts should taste anything, whether of food or drink (Jonas, iii, 7). Moses (Ex., xxxiv, 28) and Elias (III Kings, xix, 8) spent forty days in abstinence and fasting. Finally, the Pharisee in the Temple declared that he fasted