Question: Marianne Rieger asked me to refresh for her our obligations of fast and abstinence during Lent.
Father Kevin: “Thank you, Marianne. As Catholics, we are called to 2 forms of penitential practices – 3 if the Eucharistic fast of one hour before Communion is included. These practices are included in the Code of Canon Law.
The law of abstinence requires all Catholics over 14 years of age to abstain from eating meat (which includes poultry) on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from or including animal parts. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste. We are also called to sacrifice in some way on Fridays outside of Lent. Many continue the Lenten practice of not eating meat on Fridays throughout the year.
Catholics 18 to 59 are obligated to fast – defined as one meal – on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinking anything that could be considered food (milk shakes, etc.). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they are viewed as contrary to the spirit of doing penance.
We all are encouraged to perform additional personal penance and abstinence on ourselves during Lent or perform works of Mercy.”