Lenten Regulations for Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence.  The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.

The obligation of abstinence (refraining from eating meat and meat products) begins at the age of 14. The law of fasting (limiting oneself to one full meal and two lighter meals) obliges all between the ages of 18 - 59. No one should consider this obligation lightly.

Those individuals who have a medical condition in which fasting may be considered harmful are not obliged to fast, but should perform some other act of penance or charity. Consult a priest if you are in doubt.

Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.

All members of the Christian Faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity during the Lenten season beyond what is prescribed by the law.

As a general rule, a request for a dispensation from the obligation of abstinence on Fridays of Lent will not be considered, nor should it be presumed, unless some serious reason is present. The attendance at social events, banquets, wedding rehearsals or receptions, or funeral wakes is not considered sufficient reason to request a dispensation.