Fast and Abstinence
- "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from
the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for the space of forty days; and was
tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended,
He was hungry."
- What is fasting?
Fasting means that on certain days, you may eat --
- One full meal with meat (unless it is also a day of abstinence)
- Two small meals without meat.
- No food between meals.
- A fast day consists of 24 hours, from midnight to midnight.
The two small meals may be only enough to maintain strength and are not to exceed the size of the one
main meal. Liquids, including milk and fruit juice, may be taken between meals, but tend
to violate the spirit of the fast.
- Who is obliged to fast?
Every Catholic over 21 and not yet 59, who is
not sick, pregnant or nursing a baby.
- People doing heavy manual labor may be excused from this
obligation by their pastor or confessor; also, those who work long hours.
- What kind of sin is it not to fast?
A mortal sin, unless you are excused.
- When must you fast?
According to the old norms:
- Every day in Lent, except Sundays.
- December 7, December 24 (or 23) and the Saturday before Pentecost.
- Ember Days
- Some Catholics continue this tradition. According to the
new norms, there are only 2 fast days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
- When does Lent begin?
On Ash Wednesday; it ends 40 days later,
on the Saturday before Easter at midnight.
- When are the Ember Days?
The Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
following September 14, December 13, Pentecost Sunday and the 1st Sunday in Lent. Under
the new norms the Ember days are no longer observed.
- What is abstinence?
Abstinence means that on certain days you
may not eat meat.
- What is meant by "meat"?
The flesh of any warm-blooded animal or
bird and the soups or gravies made from such flesh.
- Sea foods are allowed (fish, lobster, turtles, crabs, oysters,
frogs, scallops, clams, and so on).
- Who is obliged to abstain from meat?
Traditionally, every Catholic 7 years
of age and over.
- According to the new norms, every Catholic 14 years
of age and over is obliged to abstain.
- What kind of sin is it not to abstain?
A mortal sin.
- On what days are you forbidden to eat meat at all?
According to the old norms: Ash Wednesday,
all Fridays of the year (unless a Holy Day of Obligation falls on Friday), December 7 and December 24
(or 23). Some Catholics continue this tradition. According to the new
norms: Ash Wednesday and every Friday of Lent. According to the new norms,
on every Friday of the year outside Lent Catholics must either abstain from meat or do some
other comparable penance, unless the Friday falls on a Holy Day of Obligation, in which case
one is excused from abstinence.
- What is partial abstinence?
Traditionally, this means that those who
are obliged to abstain may eat meat only once (at the main meal) on the Wednesdays and
Saturdays of Ember weeks and on the vigil of Pentecost. Under the new norms there
are no longer any days of partial abstinence.