Here are the eagerly awaited answers and results of our recent Lent quiz. We had nearly 1100 people take this quiz! Below the answers and results for each question, we’ve provided a bit of explanation for more information about each answer.
1. What is the liturgical color during Lent?
92% of the people who answered got this one correct.
4% said red, 3% said white, and 1% said blue.
The liturgical color during Lent is violet, typically. However, there are a few days throughout the season that use other colors. The feasts of the Annunciation, on March 25, and St. Joseph, on March 19, can use white vestments, as can Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, calls for the color rose where it is the custom. The Sixth Sunday during Lent, Palm Sunday, uses red vestments, as does Good Friday.
2. Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Obligation.
68% of the people got this question correct; 32% believe that Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Obligation.
Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation as many mistakenly believe, but it tends to be one of the more crowded Masses of the Church Year. It is certainly a good idea to start out the season of Lent with this important Mass, which reminds us of the penitence we are to be practicing during the season, as well as our own mortality.
3. Why do we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday?
Because of the penitential nature of the season.
The overwhelming majority of people, 97%, got this one right. 3% said that it is a sacrament, and very few people said it is because we have to.
We receive ashes as a reminder of our repentance, sorrow, and humility, as ashes symbolize in the Bible. They also remind us that “thou art dust, and to dust thou shall return.” (It is also not a requirement that Catholics receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.)
4. All Fridays during Lent are required fasting days.
42% answered this correctly, and 58% said that Fridays during Lent are fasting days.
Because we did not specify modern Roman Catholics, and the requirements for those who attend Tridentine Masses and for Eastern Catholics are different than for Latin Rite Catholics, we can’t really say that 58% of people necessarily answered this question incorrectly – in the Extraordinary Rite, Fridays during Lent are required fasting days, and in the Eastern Church the fast lasts during all of Lent (read more about that here). However, for Latin Rite Catholics,the requirement to fast is only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Many Catholics do fast from certain foods or other things during Lent, but this is not a requirement like fasting on these two important Lenten days. Latin Rite Catholics are required to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, but not necessarily to fast.
5. Why do Catholics set aside Fridays as particularly sacrificial days?
Because it is the day Christ died for our sins.
93% of people answered this question correctly (with some variant on the above response). A few other responses included things like to gain admission to “upstairs”, to cleanse our bodies from superficial things, that it is taken from pagan rites which enabled Catholicism more easily to be assimilated into the mainstream public, and that it is a rule made years ago not to eat meat to help the fish sellers. A number of people also said just that it is a rule of the Church.
Fridays are always considered sacrificial days, both during Lent and during the rest of the year, because Christ died for us on the cross on a Friday. Thus, we abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, when we are particularly meditating upon Christ’s sacrifice for us. (Catholics are also still required to abstain from meat or to perform some other practice of penance every Friday during the year. This penance is most often not eating meat, but some prefer to substitute with another kind of food. It should be the same thing each week, though.) To read more about days of penance, especially Fridays, read the Code of Canon Law 1249-1253.
6. Sundays are not traditionally counted in the 40 day Lenten fast.
77% of those who responded answered this correctly, and 23% got it wrong.
Just as Fridays are always penitential days, Sundays are always feast days during which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – they are mini-Easters, even during Lent. For this reason, we are not bound to the same Lenten restrictions on Sundays as on the other days in the week. However, many people who give up something for Lent still choose not to indulge themselves in it on Sundays. (Or those who add something, such as a daily Rosary or more daily prayer, don’t tend not to do it on Sundays just because it is Sunday.) The modern liturgical season of Lent lasts 44 days, includes Sundays, and ends before the Triduum, but the traditional 40 day Lenten fast excludes Sundays and includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday up to the Easter Vigil.
7. A day of fast means eating only one full meal during the day.
80% of respondents answered correction, 20% said this is false.
Fasting is required of those Catholics ages 18-59, whose health permits, and allows only one full meal to be eaten each day of fasting. Two small meals are permitted, if necessary, and together should not equal one full meal. Eating between meals is to be avoided, as well.
8. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are required days of fast for Catholics.
Again, the vast majority (95%) got this question correct, and 5% answered incorrectly.
As was already mentioned, for modern Latin Rite Catholics these two days are the only required fasting days during Lent. It is certainly a good idea and to be encouraged for people to fast on other days in addition to these (fasting is a wonderful way to gain self-discipline and learn to unite suffering with Christ’s), but it is not required (except for Eastern Catholics and traditional Catholics).
9. What is the alternate name for Holy Thursday?
66% of those who answered got this correct (not taking spelling into account). Other popular answers included: Last Supper/Institution of the Eucharist (which is the correct name for the Mass that takes place on Holy Thursday) – 16% of respondents or approximately 124 people; Triduum (Holy Thursday is the first day of the Triduum, but it is not an alternate name for Holy Thursday specifically) – .03% or approximately 24 people; Passover – 21 people; Shrove Thursday – 8 people; Chrism Thursday (again, the name of the Mass, not the day) – 9 people; and some other answers included Gaudete or Gaudi Thursday, seder, Easter Vigil, and red or white or black Thursday.
Holy Thursday is also known as Maundy Thursday. The name Maundy comes from the Latin antiphon Mandatum Novum, “a new mandate”. This is in reference to John 13:34, in which Jesus gives us a new commandment – “Love one another as I have loved you,” said after he washed the disciples’ feet, a tradition often repeated at the Mass on Holy Thursday.
10. Traditionally, what time do many churches begin their Good Friday services?
53% of people correctly answered 3pm; 37% said 12pm, 7% said 7pm, and 3% said 5pm.
Christ was on the cross between the hours of noon and 3pm, at which time He died. These three hours, the most solemn and sacred hours of the Church year, are often kept as hours of silence, with many Catholics refraining from music, television, computer, or any other similar amusements or distractions. Many churches then begin their Good Friday services at 3pm, the hour in which Christ died for us. (It is encouraged, if possible, for people to take off from school or work on this day, particularly between noon and 3pm.)
11. Good Friday is a Holy Day of Obligation.
71% answered correctly that this is false, while 29% believe it to be true.
Just as is the case with Ash Wednesday, Good Friday is not a holy day of obligation in the Church. Again, however, it is an important day in the Church and it is highly encouraged that people attend the Good Friday service. This is the day Christ died for us, thereby giving us the chance to get to heaven.
12. Masses are not celebrated on Good Friday or Holy Saturday.
73% of respondents answered correctly and said that it Masses are not celebrated these two days. 27% believed that Masses are still celebrated.
After Mass on Holy Thursday, the altars are stripped, holy water is taken out of the fonts, and the Blessed Sacrament is processed through the church to be reposed. These consecrated hosts are used for the Good Friday service, which is not an actual Mass because no consecration takes place. Thus, no Masses are said in the modern Latin Rite after Holy Thursday until the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. This time is a solemn and somber time during which Jesus is in the tomb, and the lack of a prayer of consecration and the empty tabernacle reminds us of the sense of loss we feel during this time.
13. Catholics are required to receive Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten/Easter season.
81% of those who answered correctly said this statement is true, and 19% said it is false.
According to the Code of Canon Law, “After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.” (Can. 920) Most people receive multiple times throughout the year, but reception of the Eucharist used to be much more infrequent than it is today. The Council of Trent officially obliged the faithful to receive at least once a year, during the Easter season, to ensure that Catholics take part in the Source and Summit of our faith.
14. Catholics are required to go to Confession at least once during the Lenten/Easter season.
Only 29% of respondents answered this correctly, while 71% answered incorrectly.
Catholics are required to confess their sins at least once a year, as prescribed in the Code of Canon Law: “After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.” (Can. 989) There is not a time or season specified during which Catholics should fulfill this yearly obligation, as there is with the reception of Eucharist, but Lent is certainly a great time for it. Many churches and diocese have penance services during Lent (and Advent, as well), with a number of priests so that many people will be able to go to confession during these convenient times. Lent is a penitential season, with much focus on remembering our sins for which Christ died, making it the perfect time to go to confession. (Of course, though we are required to go once a year, it is highly encouraged and very spiritually healthy to go more often.) We have great resources on confession for those who would like to read more about the sacrament.
15. Easter is only one day.
92% answered False, and 8% answered True.
Easter Sunday is the Sunday following Holy week, when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The week following Easter Sunday is known as Easter Week, the Octave of Easter. Each of these eight days are considered solemnities, and thus the typical required Friday abstinence is lifted on Easter Friday because solemnities surpass days of penance. The Easter season lasts fifty days, from Easter Sunday to the Feast of Pentecost. This is a time of great rejoicing and celebrating the mystery of the resurrection and Christ’s triumph over death.