What Erasmus Thinks of Lent

erasmusAlmost all the World over, Men eat plentifully, and no Body is offended at it; but if a sick Man taste a Bit of a Chicken, the whole Christian Religion is in Danger. In England the common People have a Supper every other Day, in Lent Time, and no Body wonders at it; but if a Man, at Death’s Door in a Fever, should sup a little Chicken Broth, it is accounted a Crime worse than Sacrilege.

Among the same Persons at Lent Time, than which there is nothing of greater Antiquity, nor more religiously observ’d among Christians, as I have said before, they sup without any Penalty; but if you shall attempt to do the same, after Lent is over, on a Friday, no Body will bear it; if you ask the Reason of it, they’ll tell you ’tis the Custom of the Country. They curse a Man who does not observe the Custom of the Country, and yet they forgive themselves the Neglect of the antient Custom of the universal Church. [The Colloquies of Desiderius Erasmus, Vol. 2].