Can I eat meat today during my one meal? what about pre-vatican II?

I know we as catholics fast today (only eat one full meal), but are we allowed to meat during that one meal? What was the practice before Vatican II? Thank you.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence so “No” you can not eat meat at your one meal or any time during the day. The practice prior to Vatican II was exactly the same.

What difference does it make “prior to Vatican II?” Vatican II was nearly 50 years ago. Do you ever wonder what things were like prior to the First Vatican Council???

Before Vatican II, Catholics abstained from meat not only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but EVERY Friday. Even after Vatican II, I think it was an encyclical that made it optional, maybe someone will confirm it.

Before my mother passed away, Friday was fish day, period, no argument. Lent, ordinary time, Advent, the whole shebang.

Why the “put down”, Tim? Its a legit question. Personally I follow the pre-VAT II fasting regs. because I want to. And I’m over 70 and don’t have to follow any of the fasting regs.

The Friday fast binds the whole Church every Friday according to Canon 1250. However, there are a few exceptions. In the United States non-Lenten Fridays are not binding. England and Wales allow for abstinence from meat to be replaced with some other penance. Besides those nations, one must always abstain from meat on Fridays.

You are one true Catholic. Your obedience may be of some interest to the OP as maybe the OP wants to follow those same guidelines.

Wasnt there a time when Catholics abstained from meat for all of Lent? Even pre-Vatican 1, never mind Vatican 2?

Yes. The residual of that can be seen in, of all places, supermarket ads, where they will often have “Lenten special” as the heading of the seafood section. Fridays all year were days of abstinence, not only during Lent.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, that was probably the case in some parts of the Church but the practice of fasting varied quite a bit geographically.

I hope I am not adding to confusion but I found this information interesting.

According to my “pre Vatican II” missal (circa 1957), the rule at that time was that all the days of Lent were fasting days but only the Fridays, Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday were abstinance days.

That might be what the OP is remembering. On the weekdays of Lent (M-Th and Saturday - not sure about Sunday), back in the day, one ate one full meal, which could contain meat and two smaller meals “sufficient to maintain strength”.

Actually, it’s still in the canons:

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every 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.

Under can. 1253 (Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.), local conferences of bishops have changed the rules for some countries. In some others, they haven’t. The American Conference of Bishops has removed the obligatory abstinence on all Fridays of the year but kept it for lenten Fridays.

Until the late 1400’s, most peasants did not have meat to eat on any regular basis. What little they had was generally made into sausage, used to flavor soups and stews, etc. They were prohibited from hunting (ion pain of death), and they got some of the scraps from the nobles as their meat sources. A prohibition on eating meat during Lent, or at any other time, would have made little sense.

At no time in the 1950’s were we expected to do entirely without meat throughout all of Lent. We were supposed to limit our intake, but not to totally abstain.

Even in Catholic Boarding Schools, we were fed meat during the week. We usually had meat at dinner (supper), and either fish or a cheese dish at lunch. Of course on Friday, it was strictly forbidden to eat any meat.

I even remember in San Diego, where some of the Catholic Schools tried to get their students to eat Tuna Hot Dogs on Fridays. They were ghastly, horrible things to eat, and about 95% of them ended up in the garbage. They finally gave up, after about 6 months of trying.

As many have noted, practices varied widely at different times and places. In England, the abstinance from meat and much dairy lasted all of Lent, which it still does in Russia and Greece, I believe. The practice is recalled in vestigial form in Episcopalian “Pancake Day” (our shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras), when the last of the milk products would be utilized in pancakes.


Ash Wednesday and Good Friday have always been days of fast and abstinence both, what has changed is that now they are the only fast days required. Abstinence is now required on those two days and all Fridays of Lent as before, but not on other Fridays of the year, when another penance may be substituted if the bishops of the country permit. Before V2 all weekdays of Lent were days of fast and abstinence both. This is 2011, follow the current practice promoted by your bishop.

[quote=. Before V2 all weekdays of Lent were days of fast and abstinence both.

Don’t remember abstaining from meat on all weekdays except for Fridays during Lent. Fasting (not eating between meals) was encouraged on all days during Lent. Do remember no meat before a holy day. Think it was much easier to remember mainly because all were doing the same thing and we’d all remind each other.

So if I am traveling, and the Friday abstinence is in effect in that country, such as France, I am obligated to abstain, correct? It’s not where I originate, but where I am currently located that counts? I expect to be in France this summer and will go to Mass there too.

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