Lent/Fasting and Abstinence


Ok, can someone please tell me what days we are supposed to fast and what days we are supposed to abstain. I seem to mix them up sometimes.

Also are we supposed to cover our crucifixes during Lent?


In the United States:

We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

We abstain from meat on all the Fridays of Lent.

More information is available here: usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/lent/catholic-information-on-lenten-fast-and-abstinence.cfm

More explanation from the bishops’ web site:

**Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat. Does meat include chicken and dairy products?
A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

**Q. I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?
A. Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal. Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.


Covering of Crosses and Images in Lent


It’s my understanding that the meat abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday as well as on all Fridays of Lent. So fast + abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstain on all other Fridays of Lent. Is that right?


That’s correct. I tend to think of fasting as automatically including abstaining from meat but they actually are two separate things. So Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fasting and abstinence while the other Fridays of Lent of days of abstinence from meat.


US Latin Catholics aged 14 and older abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (unless they are solemnities) and also fast, age 18 through 59, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, eating only one full meal on each of those two days.CIC Canon 1250—All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the universal Church.
CIC 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 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.

CIC Canon 1253—It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

Byzantine Catholics (USA) are minimally to abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy on Clean Monday and Good Friday, and abstain from meat all the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent. (Also substitutes violate the spirit of the penitential season.)


Even before I turned 14, my mother made sure me and my sister observed the no meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesdays rule. Even when I attain age 59 in many many years to come, I will continue to observe the no meat rule unless a doctor says for a health reason I must eat meat every day. It is just habit for me and engrained about having meatless meals during Lenten Fridays.

My Aunt and Uncle are going on a cruise to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary that happens to fall during Lent of this year. One person reminded them of the meatless Fridays during Lent then she corrected them to say as her and husband are both over age 59, the rule does not apply to them but I think they observe it anyway regardless of age.


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.