Sunday, February 03, 2008

Laws of Fasting

Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish - Luke 13:3

The fasting laws of the Catholic Church can get a little confusing at times, so, with Lent approaching, I wanted to put them up here for you, from the Code of Canon Law.

The Bishops' Conferences have exercised the leeway given in Canon 1293 to substitute penance for abstinence on Fridays outside of Lent, and without pastoral reminders to perform these penances, many people now think that Friday abstinence has been abolished altogether. I find it easier to just not eat meat on Fridays than to remember to perform a penance.

The Baltimore Catechism explains a fast day as one on which only one full meal is allowed, but in the morning and evening some food may be taken, the quantity and quality to be determined by local custom. That quantity is currently explained as the two snacks should not equal one full meal, meaning you get to eat one meal a day, with two snacks for sustenance.


Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.


Tom in Vegas said...

Thanks for posting this!

Hopefully the Canon Laws for fasting will be clearer to those who have been misguided.

Shirley said...

I agree, thanks for posting this! I had forgotten that Ash Wednesday was a day of fasting as well as a day of abstinence.

Paul Nichols said...

Thanks - I've tried to maintain nothing but water til at least 3 PM for obvious reasons, but sometimes I only make it until 2PM - then I feel bad.

Knowing I can have a "little something" doesn't make it any better, because even if it's a slice of bread - with nothing on it - I still feel like somebody's letting me off easy.

Or maybe I have guilt issues?

Michael Leggett said...

For I've Written Today on The Subject & on a Faux Pas, Ecchlesially, in regards to certain People, whose Arrogance is in upholding a Man-Made Tradition:

Let's pray that the "A & P" Catholics, do more than Ash Wednesday & Palm Sunday.