top of page

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.

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 fasting and abstinence can be found below: both the current rules and the 1962 discipline.  Many have found spiritual benefit in supplementing the current fasting/abstinence rules with the older discipline.

Current Practice and 1962 Discipline

Christ_in_the_Wilderness_-_Ivan_Kramskoy

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.

One is no longer required to observe the ‘1962 Disciplines of Lent’, but if you are looking to strengthen your Lenten devotion, consider trying these:

  1. Every day of Lent (excluding Sundays and First Class Feasts of St. Joseph (Mar. 19) and the Annunciation (Mar. 25) is a day of fast. Liquids, including milk and juice, are allowed between meals.

  2. Partial abstinence every day except those mentioned above. This means meat may be taken only once per day at the main meal (except on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays, and Holy Saturday).

  3. Beer and wine are allowed, but no hard alcohol.

Additional Lenten Practices

Make a very humble and sorrowful confession. Take the time to go over a very good examination of conscience and write down your sins so as to not forget them. Often we get nervous in the confessional and can forget them. Stating how many times and when you committed the sins helps the confessor to give you the right penance and to help you root out these vices.

Get to Holy Mass during the week. It takes a lot of discipline to get to Holy Mass, but the fruits are well worth it. There is no greater prayer than the prayer of Jesus to the Father through the Holy Spirit in the Holy Latin Mass in which we participate.

Pray the Holy Rosary. Meditate prayerfully on the Passion of Jesus (Sorrowful Mysteries) everyday during Lent. It would be even more effective if the whole family prays it together. Set a time to pray when people are home and not too tired to give it a good effort.

 

Read the Bible. Read and meditate on all that led up to the passion and crucifixion of Jesus.

Pray the Stations of the Cross slowly. Take yourself back in time to the Holy Land, retracing the steps of Jesus on His way to Calvary. This is usually done on Friday, but it would also be good to do everyday of Lent.

Read a traditional Catholic book. The ‘Imitation of Christ’, ‘The Secret of the Rosary’, and ‘The Life of Christ’ are all good examples.

 

Make time for heart-felt prayer. Talk heart to heart with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. This is best done in front of the Blessed Sacrament. If for some reason you cannot go to a church, pray at home facing the closest Tabernacle.

Disconnect from social media and news and keep use of your phone and computer to a minimum. Encourage your children in this.

Stop watching the news. Instead, use this time to pray for the world governments. What good does it do us to be depressed over all the evil things going on in the world that we have no control over? This time can be much better used to love and communicate with our families and make our home a happier world where they can see the difference. Use time to eat and play together as a family. Take time to communicate with each other and love each other more.

Eat meals together as a family. Sacrifice time to make delicious healthy home-made meals that everyone can enjoy together.

 

Forgive and pray for those who have hurt you. Forgive everything from the past, once and forever. Holding on to pain from our childhood, our parish, our spouses, etc… does more harm to our spiritual life than you can imagine. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, “Love your enemy”, “Do good to those who hurt you.” When offended, follow the precepts of Matthew 18:15-17 and absolutely reject gossip, slander, or detraction.

Stop taking the salvation of the world on your shoulders. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. We can only help those with whom we have influence. And let us not forget, salvation starts with our own souls and family. Every time you get depressed about the Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity, get down on your knees and pray about it. Then, give it over to God, Mary and the Saints to take care of it. We only do what ever we can to peacefully reform and renew the Church. Then, we let God do the rest. We are not God. Chill out and have more joy. God is still in charge of the Church and the world. We are only His humble servants.

Invite people this Lent to attend a Traditional Latin Mass, traditional retreat or traditional group.

Follow the command of 1 Peter 3:15-16. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you may be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ.”

Divine-Mercy-mural_Parish_Grotto
IMG_1043 Czestochowa icon - tapestry fix
bottom of page