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The three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayerfasting and almsgiving.

“Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.”—Pope Benedict XVI,  Message for Lent 2009. . . .

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year.

lent-graphic-cns-2006-150x200A Reflection on Lenten Fasting

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of complete abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year.

More information on fast and abstinence can be found at the links below.

Through our works of prayer, fasting, and abstinence, let us heed the prophet Joel’s exhortation to return to God with our whole heart (2:12).

Operation Rice Bowl. . . in one way Catholics can enhance their Lenten fasting practice by giving up meals and donating the cost of those meals to Catholic Relief Services. . . in order to help those who do not have enough to eat.


Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence

Canon Law on Fast and Abstinence (see nn. 1249-1253). . .

Questions and Answers About Lent