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.

Giving Something Up During Lent

While it is not mandatory to give up something during Lent, it is a popular, beneficial, and encouraged activity.  We may choose to fast from something (such as a favorite food or activity), make more time for prayer, or increase the good we do in the world.  Parents and caregivers may choose to require their children to do so in order to encourage their spiritual training and growth.

These practices strengthen us spiritually to live in a holy way to the best of our ability.  This is much like how training, weightlifting, and practice strengthen an athlete to perform at the best of their ability.  Remember, we're called to be saints, and nothing less!  And in our quest to be saints, to be the holiest person we can possibly be, these practices strengthen us to stand up against temptation and persevere in holiness.

Traditionally, these practices are suspended on the Sundays of Lent, in order to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in a non-excessive way.


For More Information

Use the links below for more information regarding penance and fasting and abstinence during Lent.

USCCB Fasting and Abstinence Rules

USCCB on Almsgiving

USCCB Lenten Prayers

USCCB Reflection on Fasting

USCCB Lent Home Page