Fast and Abstinence

In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has affirmed the policy on fasting and abstinence.

Thus, the rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States during Lent are: 1) Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent; and 2) every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

This Lenten fasting and abstinence is not simply a form of penance, however; it is also a call to take stock of one’s spiritual life.

As Lent begins, specific spiritual goals should be set that will aid in preparation for the upcoming Easter.  These goals could be, for example, to attend more frequently daily Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

It should also be noted that the USCCB also states that every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays throughout the year, unless some other form of penance is substituted for the abstinence.

The USCCB allows the substitution of some other form of penance for abstinence on all of the Fridays of the year, except for those Fridays in Lent.  (9:14)