Fasting and Abstinence Guidelines

The following explains the guidelines during Lent. For more information, see "Your questions about Lent answered," or "Fasting: The goal is a transformed heart" to find out the benefits and reasons to fast.

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence.
  • The law of fasting allows one full meal and two smaller ones.
  • The law of abstinence prohibits the eating of meat.
  • The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.
  • The obligation of abstinence begins at age 14.
  • The law of fasting obliges all between the ages of 18-59.
  • Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.
  • All members of the Christian faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity beyond what is prescribed by the law.