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Fasting and abstinence observed throughout Lenten time

Reminder about Church's call for fasting, abstinence and forms of penance during Lent

Published: February 13, 2024   

As we enter into the season of Lent, it is helpful to recall the discipline of the Church with regard to fasting, abstinence and other forms of penance.


1. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence. The law of fasting allows one full meal and two smaller ones. The law of abstinence prohibits the eating of meat.

2. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.

3. The obligation of abstinence begins at age 14. The law of fasting obliges all between the ages of 18-59.

4. Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.

5. All members of the Christian faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity beyond what is prescribed by the law.

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