When do we fast? A quick Lenten guide

Miscellany/Keith Jacobs

Miscellany/Keith JacobsDuring Lent we are called  to renew our baptismal commitment while others prepare to receive that sacrament. The season helps deepen our faith through prayer, penitence and works of charity.

Lent begins this year on March 9 with Ash Wednesday, which is a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics.

The present laws of the Catholic Church regarding fast days and abstinence during the season are:

Good Friday is a day of fasting. On fast days, one full meal is allowed. Two lesser meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each person’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted. Catholics who have completed their 18th year are bound by this law until the beginning of their 60th year.

All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. On days of abstinence, meats should not be taken at any meal. The law of abstinence binds all Catholics who have completed their 14th year.

The obligation to observe, as a whole or substantially, the penitential days specified by the church is a serious responsibility.

The New Code of Canon Law states: “On these days (of penance), the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence …”

For information about Lenten practice, prayer and tradition, visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at www.usccb.org/lent.

Related article: Pope says Lent is time to renounce selfishness