Lent: Laws of Fast & Abstinence

The holy season of Lent: prayer, fasting, almsdeeds


Everyone between the ages of 21 and 59 inclusive is bound to observe the law of fast. The days of fast are all the days in Lent except Sundays.

On days of fast, only one full meal is allowed and it should not be taken before noon. Two other meatless meals sufficient to maintain strength may be taken, but together they should not equal a normal main meal. Meat may be taken at the principal meal on a day of fast, except on days of complete abstinence. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed.

When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. Mothers who are pregnant or nursing are always exempt. In doubt concerning your obligation to fast and abstain, consult the parish priest or confessor.


Everyone 7 years of age and older is bound to observe the law of abstinence. Complete abstinence from meat must be observed on Fridays throughout the year, Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. On days of partial abstinence, e.g. Ember Wednesday and Saturday, meat and soup or gravy made from meat may be taken only once a day at the principal meal.