2 Ash wednesday questions

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of abstinence from meat (for those Catholics age 14 and over), as are all Fridays in Lent, right?!

I know that all fridays in the year are days of penance, and the most common way to meet this requirement is to not eat meat but this has since been relaxed to include otherways to satsify it, via prayer/almsgiving, etc… does this apply to lenten fridays as well or does the meat abstinence strictly stand?

2nd, does ash wednesday count as a obligatory attendence day? What are the obligatory attendence days?

You’re right about the days of abstinence and that all Fridays are penitential. Remember Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are ALSO days of fast (one meal + 2 smaller meals that together don’t equal the volume of food in the larger meal, no snacks in between but liquids are allowed).

By obligatory attendance I presume you’re referring to those feasts and solemnities where Mass attendance is required. They’re called Holy Days of Obligation (HDOs for short).

Ash Wednesday isn’t an HDO, certainly not in the US and I don’t think in any other country either. If you want to know which days ARE HDOs (and it changes from country to country) you’ll want to google your country’s Bishop’s Conference (in America that’s the USCCB) and they should list 'em.

EDIT: Just noticed you’re Canadian. Check with the Canadian Catholic Bishop’s Conference about all of the above. Easiest is just to contact the office of your local diocese.

One thing the previous poster forgot to address from the OP is that even though the abstinence requirement (no meat) has been removed from Fridays outside of Lent, it still exists during Lent.

In summary:
During Lent (no meat on all Fridays)
On Good Friday and Ash Wednesday (no meat and you are required to fast)
Outside Lent (meat allowed on Fridays, but you are supposed to perform some type of Penance.)

Of course all requirements can be waved for health reasons.

From our parish priest’s comments in our bulletin this past Sunday:

Now about this Wednesday (omitting commentary about Tuesday since I don’t think you need any encouragement to feast yourselves, moderately, on Fat Tuesday) I need to remind you about your Lenten obligations. Wednesday is a day of both fast and abstinence. Translation: abstinence means not eating flesh meats. I quote here canon law 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat…is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on [Good] Friday…” As you can see, all Fridays are supposed to be meatless. Since Lent is the penitential season of the Church, the law of abstinence binds one more strictly and thus the penalty for non-observance would be more severe. Abstinence from meat binds everyone from age 14 (there is no limit on the other end), but surely even younger children may be encouraged to do penance (they are often more capable of doing penances than some adults may realize). Fasting means limiting the amount of meatless food taken. It binds those from ages 21 through 59. Fasting may certainly also be freely embraced by those outside these age limits. The rule of fasting is to take only one full meal a day. It also permits, if needed for strength (e.g. for those working), the taking of a little something at one or even two other times during the day. This last requirement should not however be viewed as ‘snacking’ but as a need when fasting might cause a hardship.

You may read the entire column here: assumptiongrotto.com/pastor.htm

Why does everyone always get this wrong? :shrug:


Liza, I’m afraid it’s your priest who has it wrong:

“Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. **In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety. **”

The USCCB (America’s Episcopal Conference) has determined, as they have every right to do, that other penitential works can be done on Fridays outside of Lent instead of the abstaining from meat. They have thus done a substitution as per Canon 1253.

Our instructions from our Bishop states:

  1. ASH WEDNESDAY and GOOD FRIDAY are days of abstinence from meat for those 14 years of age and older. They are also days of fasting for those agest 18 to 58 unless health or work is seriously affected.

  2. ALL FRIDAYS IN LENT are days of abstinence from meat for those 14 years of age or older.

  3. ALL FRIDAYS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR (except solemnities) outside of Lent remain days of penance. The United States bishops highly recommend the traditional abstinence from meat, together with fasting, for the cause of peace in the world. However, some other practice of voluntary self-denial or personal penance may be substituted.

so, essentially the exception for fridays outside of lent does not apply to fridays in lent? no meat is strict

Strict? You’ve got to be kidding.

What would you consider lax?

Read the rules the Orthodox go by sometime–we Westerners used to have similar rules. I don’t enjoy fasting, but for goodness’s sake it’s part of the Christian way and always has been. Why grumble about it? And why water it down so you hardly notice it?

On the other hand, fasting does make me grouchy. Hence the tone of this post!


I have never heard of doing penance on Fridays. It looks like a person does learn something new every day. Thanks.

Sorry for being off topic.

I worked with a woman who is Russian Orthodox. She was not allowed to eat any dairy products either. Fasting was not only during Lent. She had other times of fasting during the year. I found out because she couldn’t eat pizza that we ordered for lunch at work, not even just cheese pizza (the cheese was against the fast).

I don’t know if you’re suppose to feel this way, but abiding by these rules makes me feel “special” and I’m glad I’m catholic.

Actually it’s probably healthy for us anyway.

youve misinterpreted my post! I meant so no meat is the guideline, no exceptions like fridays outside of lent allow! thats what i meant by strict

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