But then comes the perennial question: When does Lent actually end? When can you indulge in the treats that you’ve been abstaining from for the past few weeks?
Technically, Lent ends with the Holy Thursday Mass in the evening. However, the more ancient three-day pre-Paschal fast follows immediately on Lent’s heels, taking us up through the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, which celebrates Christ’s resurrection. Our later practices of abstaining from something (particularly meat) during Lent derive from this older three-day fast. So, if you’ve given something up for Lent and you decide to treat yourself to it again on Holy Thursday, you would technically be right: Lent ends then. But this is an example of following the word and not the spirit of fasting during Lent. Why would we feast at the moment the bridegroom is taken away from us (Mt 9:15)? Why not wait just two more days and feast with the entire Church, after the Paschal Vigil? Then you can eat chocolate bunnies to your heart’s content and without any mixed feelings over jumping the gun, liturgically speaking.