What is the official teaching of the Church? (Fasting & Abstinence)


#1

A year or two ago, our local bishop said repeatedly in different Masses that the Catholic Church sets only two days for the faithful to abstain from eating meat. These two days are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All other Fridays in the Lent, the Catholics are allowed to eat meat.

Is this the official teaching of the Church? Please help. I am confused.


#2

No that is not correct. You are confusing fasting with abstinance.
On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday we are required to fast (the only two obligatory fasting days) and abstain from eating meat.
We are also required to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays during Lent.
During the rest of the year on Fridays we are required to do a penance of which abstaining from meat is one choice.


#3

That is correct. Church Law requires that Catholics specifically abstain from meat on those two days.

Church Law also requires that Catholics practice penance on all Fridays by abstaining from meat OR some other form of penance that they choose if they do not choose to abstain from meat.


#4

Thistle, The universal law of the Church requires abstinence from meat (or some other food as determined by the Espiscopal Confernce) on all Fridays-- Canon 1251. Under Canon Law 1251 and 1253 the Conferences of Bishops have the ability to set the observance in their conference.

The US Bishops abbrogated the abstinence requirement on all Fridays outside Lent-- allowing a different penance-- but retained this requirement during Lent for the United States.

The OP’s location says “Far East” which means he is in a different bishop’s conference and therefore could have a different particular law on the matter.

So, the OP should follow what his Bishop stated because the Bishops have the ability to set the requirements of fasting and abstinence on Fridays. However, if the OP wants to do it anyway, he can even if it’s not required.


#5

That is correct. Church Law requires that Catholics specifically Abstain from meat and Fast on those two days.

Church Law also requires that Catholics practice penance on all Fridays by abstaining from meat on all Fridays of Lent OR some other form of penance that they choose if they do not choose to abstain from meat on all Fridays outside of Lent.


#6

That is the law for the United States as set by the US Bishop’s Conference.

The OP doesn’t appear to be in the US, and therefore his Bishop’s Conference may have set different requirements under their particular law.


#7

I didn’t even notice the location in my rush.

Moderators please just delete both my posts as they are not correct.


#8

This is the first I’ve ever heard of not eating meat on Ash Wednesday. I realize that you are supposed to fast, but also not eat meat? I’m in the US.


#9

Yes; Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the year where abstinence from meat is universally (world-wide) and absolutely required and can’t be changed.

Regulations around the rest of the Fridays of the year vary from place to place, so follow your Bishop.


#10

Here’s canon law on the matter:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM


#11

By the way, I am from the Philippines.

Thanks for the help guys.


#12

I understand that but I’m not aware of any country where Friday (outside Lent) abstinance of meat is mandatory. Is there is a list of such countries? By the way I live in the Philippines which has the largest Catholic population in the Far East and we are allowed to eat meat on Fridays outside Lent. We are simply required to do some form of penance of which not eating meat is a choice, and actually the one I choose.


#13

Is it a mortal sin if I cannot follow the Church’s law of taking only one full meal during Lenten season?


#14

What you say is not the Church’s law.
We are only required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Surely you can manage 2 days out of the whole Lenten period.
Do not confuse fasting with abstinance. On the above 2 days plus all Fridays of Lent we are also required to abstain from eating meat. That is distinct from fasting.


#15

We only have to abstain from meat Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in England and Wales, only recently found that out and so I assumed every Catholic I saw eating meat on a Lenten Friday was mortally sinning til I asked my priest


#16

That depends on what you mean by “cannot”. Is there a medical reason? Are you prone to forget? Or do you just not want to do it?

The fasting requirement is only mandatory for those between the ages of 18 and 58. If you are younger than 18 or older than 58, you are not required to fast in this way.

If there is some medical reason why you are unable to fast, that might also exempt you.

Of course, in all cases, we are required to keep in line with the spirit of penance on those days.


#17

Actually it’s 59 - the cut off is one’s 60th birthday. :wink:

If there is some medical reason why you are unable to fast, that might also exempt you.

Of course, in all cases, we are required to keep in line with the spirit of penance on those days.

:thumbsup:


#18

Canon 1252 of Canon Law states “The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year.” Doesn’t the sixtieth year begin when a person turns 59? That’s what I always thought. (Though maybe my math skills aren’t what they once were!)

Not that it matters for me. I’ll probably still fast when I’m 59. :slight_smile:


#19

HMM, now I don’t know! I’d forgotten the part where it said the beginning of the 60th year. In any case, I’m like you - I’ll be doing the fasting until they stuff me into a pine box.


#20

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