Lenten Regulations on Fast and Abstinence
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. The following fasting and abstinence
regulations are observed:
- Abstinence from meat is observed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of
Lent by all Catholics 14 years of age and older.
- Fasting is observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who are 18 years
of age but not yet 59 years of age. Those bound by this rule may take only one full
meal. Two smaller meals are permitted as necessary to maintain strength according to
one's needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.
- The special Paschal fast and abstinence are observed on Good Friday and, where possible,
on Holy Saturday. On these days, Christians prepare themselves by these disciplines
in anticipation of the renewal of their baptismal commitment on Easter.
From its earliest days, the Church has urged the baptized and the catechumens to
observe the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer as a preparation for
the celebration of Easter. Failure to observe individual days of penance is not
considered serious, but failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial
number of such days must be considered serious.
During Lent, the Church encourages attendance at daily Mass, self-imposed times of
fasting, and generosity to local, national, and worldwide programs of sharing.