Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

More information on fast and abstinence can be found below.

Thoughts for an Extraordinary Lent

Current Practice vs. 1962 Discipline

Current Practice

Current Practice

Current Practice

Current Practice

Discipline of 1962

Discipline of 1962

Discipline of 1962

Discipline of 1962

Days of Abstinence

  • Begins on 14th birthday

  • Ash Wednesday & Fridays of Lent

  • Obliges abstention from flesh meat

  • Applies on one’s 7th Birthday

  • Complete Abstinence:
    all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, and the Vigil of Christmas

  • Partial Abstinence
    (meat & soup or gravy made from meat permitted once a day at principal meal):
    all the days of Lent, the Ember Days of Wednesday and Saturday, and the Vigils of Pentecost & the Assumption

  • Abstinence from meat is dispensed on Holy Days of Obligation

Days of Penance

  • Applies to all the Faithful

  • Lent and Fridays outside of Lent

  • The obligation to do penance is lifted on Fridays which are also celebrated as a solemnity.

  • Applies on one’s 7th Birthday

  • Complete Abstinence:
    all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, and the Vigil of Christmas

  • Partial Abstinence
    (meat & soup or gravy made from meat permitted once a day at principal meal):
    all the days of Lent, the Ember Days of Wednesday and Saturday, and the Vigils of Pentecost & the Assumption

  • Abstinence from meat is dispensed on Holy Days of Obligation

Days of Fast

  • Applies to everyone aged 18 to 59, inclusive

  • One full meal permitted and two other meals which, when combined, are less than a full meal

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday

  • Applies for those aged 21 to 59, inclusive

  • Days of Lent from Ash Wednesday, inclusive, Ember Days and Vigils of Christmas, Pentecost and the Assumption

  • One full meal permitted and two other meals may be taken which, when combined, are less than a full meal

Law of Eucharistic Fast

  • Under the new Code of Canon Law (1983), the Fast for Holy Communion is one hour before the reception of the Holy Eucharist. Those who are able to maintain the previous discipline of the three-hour fast are still encouraged to do so.

  • The complete fast from all food and drink (except water or medicine) for three hours before the reception of Holy Communion. Those who are able to maintain the midnight fast, which was the previous discipline, are still encouraged to do so.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church

2267 Main Street, Three Rivers, MA 01080

Parish Office: (413) 283-6030

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