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LENTEN FAST AND ABSTINENCE

Lenten Regulations for Fast and Abstinence


The National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following pastoral statement for Lenten regulations:

Abstinence

The Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday. Everyone from the fourteenth birthday exclusive is bound to observe the law of abstinence. 

Fast and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Everyone from the twenty-first birthday exclusive to the fifty-ninth birthday inclusive is bound to observe the law of fast.

The practice of granting dispensations from the law of fast and abstinence is no longer necessary. It is left up to the individual's conscience to determine whether there is sufficient reason to excuse one-self from fast and abstinence on the days when they oblige. The bishops have stated: "No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called Good Friday because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins." To reiterate, the bishops have expressed confidence that "no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.

The bishops further strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and some self-imposed observance of fasting for all other week days of Lent.


Rules of Fasting and Abstinence

1)  Abstinence:

  • No meat is eaten on days of abstinence.

  • Days of Abstinence are every Friday in Lent, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

  • Everyone 14 and older are bound to abstain from meat on days of abstinence (invalids, pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt).

2)  Fasting:

  • Fasting means having only one full meal to maintain one's strength. Two smaller meatless and penitential meals are permitted according to one's needs, but they should not equal the one full meal. Eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.

  • Days of fasting are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

  • Everyone from 18 but not yet 60 years of age are bound to the law of fasting (again, invalids, pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt).

3)  Friday Abstinence Outside of Lent:

It should be noted that Fridays throughout the year are designated days of penance. The Code of Canon Law states that Friday is a day of abstinence from meat throughout the year. The American Bishops have allowed us to choose a different form of penance rather than abstaining from meat, but there must be some form of penance, for this is the day we commemorate Christ's suffering and death. The bishops stress that "among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance...we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat" (Pastoral Statement on Fasting and Abstinence).

 
 

Prayerbook

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"A Collage of Catholic Information"

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