Society of Saint Pius X Africa

Fast and Abstinence

As we are in the penitential period of Lent it is perhaps useful to remind Catholics of the Traditional teaching on Fasting and Abstaining during this and other holy times. Here, then, is a brief summary of the Church's teaching on fast and abstinence.

 

Everyone over 7 years of age is bound to observe the law of ABSTINENCE.

COMPLETE ABSTINENCE, which forbids the eating of meat, and soup or gravy made from meat, is required on: all Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, the Vigil of Assumption, and the Vigil of Christmas.

Everyone aged 21 to 59 inclusive is also bound to observe the law of FAST

The days of FAST are: weekdays of Lent, Ember Days, the Vigil of Pentecost, the Vigil of Assumption, and the Vigil of Christmas.

On the days of FAST, only one full meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one's needs, but together they should not equal another full meal.

Meat may be taken at the principal meal on a day of FAST except on days of COMPLETE ABSTINENCE (see above).

Eating between meals is not permitted; but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed.

When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. In doubt concerning FAST or ABSTINENCE, a parish priest or confessor should be consulted.

There is no obligation for FAST or ABSTINENCE on a Holyday of Obligation, even though it may fall on a Friday.

NOTE: The above practices were formerly promulgated by the Church as laws which all Catholics were bound to obey. In recent years, these regulations have been relaxed to such an extent that they no longer bind in the consciences of Catholics under pain of serious sin. Current legislation dictates that COMPLETE ABSTINENCE is to be observed by Catholics 14 years of age and older only on Ash Wednesday as well as on all Fridays of Lent. FAST must be kept solely on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. A Catholic may, if he wish, observe the present regulations without fault or sin. Nonetheless, it is to be highly recommended that a Catholic follow, as much as possible, the traditional practices in a spirit of penance, mortification, and reparation However, it is to be noted that those who do take advantage of the new laws, according to the mind of the Church, are expected to "try to make compensation for these benefits by an outstanding life of Christian example and by works of penance and charity."

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