Am I required to fast during Lent?

I am 24 and I read that Catholics between 18-60 are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Now I have recently read that this only applies to the USA, I live in the UK.

So did I read correctly?

Here’s a liturgical calendar I found on the website of the Diocese of Westminster. It looks like you are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and that all Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence. This is something you should talk to your pastor about in order to ensure you know what you are bound to do.

If you have dietary or health problems, then the fasts or abstentions can easily be modified or even not apply to you. For example, pregnant or nursing mothers are not required to fast, nor are laborers. So, yes, talk with your pastor about your situation.

Or if you’re past your 59th birthday, the fasts do not apply (abstentions do). Why they picked that number, I have no idea, but there you are.

Canon Law:

Can. 1249 All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

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.

I have diabetes so I abstain on Fast Days and keep my diabetes food plan religiously;). I do not eat sweets of any kind. I am 56 and when I turn 60, I will probably do the same unless another illness attacks me.

Dear Sean,

Generally speaking, Canon 1251 should be read in this way:

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

My understanding for the UK is that, not only during lent, but on ALL Fridays of the year, abstinence has been reinstated a couple years ago. If you have any doubt about this, check with your local Ordinary.

For the US, abstinence has been dispensed on Fridays, except during Lent, Good Friday, and Ash Wednesday.

That’s in canon 1253.

It is not obligatory in the UK to abstain from meat on all Fridays. That was misunderstood. It is strongly recommended that people should abstain from meat rather than perform another penance.

I posted canon 1251 exactly as it is written, and I was correct in stating that it depends on the Episcopal Conference to regulate. It is also restated in 1253.

Where are you getting your info about the UK regulation, Thistle? I posted the link in the closed thread to the new obligation to abstain on Fridays that the bishops have reinstated in the UK, but you keep insisting on your own way. Where is your source that proves it is not a requirement?

Read it again:

protectthepope.com/?p=3092

Following their May meeting at Leeds the Bishops of England and Wales have announced the re-introduction of abstinence from meat on Friday as an obligatory pentitential act for Catholics. The discipline will re-commense on September 16th, the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s state visit to the UK.

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