Fasting and Abstinence?

The rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States are:

  • Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday.
  • Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.

As Catholics, we know that we are bound by the rules of Fasting and Abstinence, but the discipline would have little benefit to us if we just followed rules because someone told us that we had to. We practice the disciplines of fasting and abstinence because we recognize our need to grow in holiness and to develop our faith.

Still, sometimes we forget why we do what we do. Scott P. Richert explains the rule of the disciplines of fasting and abstinence at his article What Are the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence and he also gives a great explanation of the “why we do it” of fasting and abstinence, (as well as the difference between fasting and abstinence) in his article Abstinence as Spiritual Discipline.

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