Guidelines Regarding Fast and Abstinence

by the Office of Worship, Diocese of Gary

The Lenten Fast

Ash Wednesday:

This day is commemorated by fasting and by

abstinence from meat.

Lenten Fridays:

These days are marked by the discipline of abstinence

from meat.

The Lenten Fast is a fast of penance.

Our self-denial is a way of emphasizing our

dependence on God.

The Paschal Fast

“The Paschal Fast must be kept sacred. It should be

celebrated everywhere on Good Friday, and where

possible should be prolonged throughout Holy

Saturday” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy # 110)

Good Friday through Holy Saturday:

These days are marked by fasting and by abstinence

from meat. Please note that these days are not part of

Lent or the Lenten Fast.

The Paschal Fast is a fast of anticipation.

The observance of this most ancient fast is a solemn

way to prepare ourselves for the reception of the

Easter Communion.

How To Fast

The customary fast:

This fast allows for only one full meal to be taken during the

day. Two smaller meals are permitted, if necessary, to

maintain strength according to one’s needs. Eating solid foods

between meals is not permitted.

The fast of the early church:

This fast begins upon rising. No meals are taken until the

customary work day (5:00 p.m.) is ended.

A glass of juice may be taken in the morning and simple liquids

such as water, coffee and tea, during the day. The fast ends

with a brief prayer followed by an adequate meal. For many

this may work as a more natural way to fast.

Age guidelines for fasting:

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday

by all Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday and

who have not yet celebrated their 59th birthday.

How To Abstain

Traditional abstinence:

This is the practice of refraining from meat and meat products.

Abstinence as penance:

Entering fully into the spirit of the Lenten Fast and the Paschal

Fast, we are also encouraged to abstain from other foods,

practices or activities.

Age guidelines for abstinence:

Abstinence is to be practiced by all who are 14 years of age and


Why Do We Fast And Abstain

When we fast and abstain, we do it together:

The practice of the Lenten Fast and the Paschal Fast is a practice of the whole parish community. Though the fast is carried out

personally, we are united in our action through Jesus Christ. Our united fast and abstinence is our prayer to the Father through Jesus.

Those who have already celebrated their 59th birthday are welcome to share with the community in these practices. However, they

should take appropriate care regarding their personal health.

Our actions speak louder than our words:

Both personally and as a community we deliberately place ourselves in need (hunger being the most basic need) so that we can discover

that for which we hunger spiritually in our lives and in our world. We do this to give concrete expression to our trust in God to give us

the spiritual sustenance we require. Our joint action is intended to strengthen our deep belief that the God who raised Jesus from the

dead also fills our every need.

We can see that the Lenten Fast and the Paschal Fast are not ancient diet plans. If we lose some unwanted pounds it's an added