Fasting & Abstinence
During Lent, the Church challenges each of us to be more than Sunday Catholics. The disciplines of Lent include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Regardless of how strictly we choose to fast, every Christian’s eating habits should be remarkably different. The message is to simplify our lifestyle and to consider the many in the world who live in poverty and survive on very little food.
Catholics over 14 years of age are bound to the obligation of abstinence. Abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. On these days, meat should not be eaten.
Catholics from 18–59 are bound to the obligation of fasting. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the days of fasting. On these days, we should have only one full meatless meal. Some meatless food can be eaten at the other regular meal times if needed to maintain strength, but together those foods should not equal another full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.
EXEMPTIONS OTHER THAN AGE:
Those who are excused from fasting and abstinence outside the age limits are the physically or mentally ill, including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.
For more information about Lent and Lenten practices, visit this page of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).