Abstinence requirements

Is there an age limit after which no one has to abstain from meat on Fridays, without having to do a penance? My father is over 90 and I need to have the right info to instruct him about this. He thinks that he no longer has to abstain from meat on Fridays. I haven’t been able to make him understand about doing an alternate penance, so I have not made an inssue out of it and have served meatless meals on Fridays. However, with my diabetes and other health problems and taking care of his needs there are some Fridays when it’s difficult if not impossible to do meatless.

Here are the relevant canons.

**Canon 1250 **All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

It appears that your father must still abstain but is not required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Remember, ‘Meatless’ is not that difficult for the older person especially one who is accustomed. (My mother just turned 79 so I understand to a great extent). Peanut butter, grilled cheese, tuna are standbys along with tomato soup, fish sticks, cheese pizza, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, waffles. . .there is no law that breakfast foods are only for breakfast and my mother often enjoys them for Friday’s dinner.

And solemnities falling on Friday are not uncommon. Frankly, I find it easier to keep Fridays meatless even if they are solemnities. I mean, there’s 6 other days in a given week to have meat.

I can remember the times before microwaves, etc. when it was much more difficult to prepare ‘separate’ meals, etc. God bless you and your father. Tell him he doesn’t have to FAST any more, bless his heart, but we need him to show all those ‘young’uns’ that if HE can abstain at his age, they should be ashamed NOT to in the ‘fullness of their strength.’


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.