Published January 31, 2008
Fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 6) and Good Friday (March 21). Traditionally, fasting consists of eating only one meal, with the possibility of two smaller snacks that do not add up to a single full meal.
Abstinence from meat on Fridays. Canon 1251 specifies that Catholics refrain from eating meat on Fridays, as an act of penitence. In the United States, Catholics are permitted to substitute another penance outside of the season of Lent. During Lent, however, all Catholics are obliged not to eat meat on Fridays.
Penance during Lent. The season of Lent is a penitential time and should be marked by some form of self-denial.
Fasting before the reception of Holy Communion. In preparation for the reception of Holy Communion, Catholics are asked to observe a period of fasting before receiving the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion. Currently the minimum length of this fast is one hour.
The law of abstinence applies to all persons over the age of 14; the law of fasting applies to those between the age of 18 and 59.