Rules for Fasting and Abstinence

FASTING The obligation to fast applies to all Catholics who meet the age requirements (see below) on the required days unless they have a medical condition which prevents them from doing so, are pregnant or nursing, or their work would be impaired. On days of fasting:

ABSTINENCE On days of full abstinence one is not permitted to eat the flesh of warm-blooded animals or soups or gravies made with the flesh of such animals. On days of partial abstinence (traditional rules only) one meal containing meat is permitted.

This document describes the rules for fasting and abstinence in eefect in the United States. Each Episcopal Conference may modify the rules; those in other locations should consult local authoritative sources.

Current Discipline

Fasting obligations apply to those between the ages of 18 and 59, inclusive, except as noted above. Abstinence obligations apply to those age 14 and older. Canon law explicitly requires that pastors and parents ensure that minors not under these obligations are taught the true meaning of penance.

Fasting and abstinence are required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting on Holy Saturday is recommended, but not required.

Abstinence is required on all Fridays of Lent unless they are solemnities. Fridays outside of Lent are penitential days: abstinence is recommended, but in the United States other forms of penance may be substituted.

The current laws of fasting and abstinence bind under the pain of severe sin.

Traditional (1962) Discipline

Fasting obligations applied to those between the ages of 21 and 59, inclusive, except as noted above. Abstinence obligations applied to those age 7 and older.

Fasting was required on Ash Wednesday and the three following days, all weekdays of Lent, Ember days, and vigils.

Full abstinence was required on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays during the year, and the vigil of Christmas. Partial abstinence was required on all weekdays of Lent, Wednesdays and Saturdays of the Ember weeks, and all vigils (except Christmas).

The requirements for fasting and abstinence did not apply on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent.