What are you all having for your meals today?
I had a slice of toast this morning. Later, probably a bowl of vegetable soup. For supper, after Mass… we’ll see. Probably nothing.
According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church, Latin Church Catholics are bound to observe fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday.
Here are some details. I am sure you know them already, but they are good to review.
FASTING: Catholics who are 18 year old and up, until their 59th birthday (when you begin your 60th year), are bound to fast (1 full meal and perhaps some food at a couple points during the day, call it 2 “snacks”, according to local custom or law – call it, two snacks that don’t add up to a full meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. There is no scientific formula for this. Figure it out.
ABSTINENCE: Catholics who are 14 years old and older are abound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent.
In general, when you have a medical condition of some kind, or you are pregnant, etc., these requirements can be relaxed.
For Eastern Catholics there are differences concerning dates and practices. Perhaps our Eastern friends can fill us Latins in.
You should by now have a plan for your spiritual life and your physical/material mortifications and penitential practices during Lent.
You would do well to include some works of mercy, both spiritual and corporal.
I also recommend making a good confession close to the beginning of Lent. Let me put that another way:
GO TO CONFESSION!
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are saying anxiously, “What about my Mystic Monk Coffee? I can drink my Mystic Monk Coffee, can’t I? Can’t I I know you hate Vatican II but… WHAT ABOUT MY COFFEE?!?”
You can, of course, with and as part of your full meal and two “snacks”. No question there.
How about in between?
The old axiom, for the Lenten fast, is “Liquidum non frangit ieiunium … liquid does not break the fast”, provided you are drinking for the sake of thirst, rather than for eating. Common sense suggests that chocolate banana shakes or “smoothies”, etc., are not permissible, even though they are pretty much liquid in form. They are not what you would drink because you are thirsty, as you might more commonly do with water, coffee, tea, wine in some cases, lemonade, even some of these sports drinks such as “Gatorade”, etc. Again, common sense applies, so figure it out.
Drinks such as coffee and tea seem not break the Lenten fast even if they have a little milk added, or a bit of sugar, or fruit juice, which in the case of tea might be lemon.
Coffee would break the Eucharistic fast (one hour before Communion), since – pace fallentes – coffee is no longer water, but it does not break the Lenten fast on Ash Wednesday.
You will be happy to know that chewing tobacco does not break the fast (unless you eat the quid, I guess), nor does using mouthwash (gargarisatio in one manual I checked) or brushing your teeth (pulverisatio).
If you want to drink your coffee and tea with true merit I suggest drinking it from one of my coffee mugs. I’d like to offer an indulgence for doing so, but that’s above my pay grade.
Perhaps I should make a “Liquidum non frangit ieiunium” mug.