Ash Wednesday, Fasting, Abstaining, and You.

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 2 “snacks” that don’t add up to a full meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

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.

liquidum non frangit ieiuniumI also recommend making a good confession close to the beginning of Lent.

“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?”

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 ieiuniumliquid does not break the fast”, provided you are drinking for the sake of thirst, rather than for eating.  I don’t think chocolate banana shakes or “smoothies”, etc., are 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.  Common sense applies.

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 not 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.

Ash Wednesday, Fasting, Abstaining, and You.
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56 Responses to Ash Wednesday, Fasting, Abstaining, and You.

  1. priests wife says:

    for Byzantine Catholics, the official practices might differ which each ethnic church- in general:

    no animal products at all and fasting amounts on ‘Pure Monday’ (today) and Good Friday

    no meat on the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent

    traditional (or monastery style right now) guidelines would be to abstain from either meat or all animal products for the entire season- we go meatless every day but Sundays and vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays- it can be complicated for the cook, but doable

  2. wmeyer says:

    Do I infer correctly that water does not break the Eucharistic fast? [Yes.]

  3. Phil B says:

    How about a “Manducatione tobacco non frangit ieiunium” mug? [Perhaps masticatio? With some nice brown-stained teeth as a background?]

  4. Scott W. says:

    “1 full meal and 2 “snacks” that don’t add up to a full meal”

    Just to pick at the minutiae, it is my understanding that the full meal and 2 snacks thing, while probably decent advice, the wording is actually :

    “The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom.”

    Maybe the 2 snacks =/= full meal does come from some approved local custom. Anyone know?

  5. Augustin57 says:

    Oh, I hate asking these types of questions, but just to make sure, if you ARE 59, are you required to fast? I’m 59, and will be 60 in June. I probably will fast anyway, but if I understand correctly, it won’t be a sin if I don’t. True or not? Thanks!

  6. mamajen says:

    I wasn’t aware that drinks other than water do not break the Lenten fast. That’s really helpful to know. I sometimes get a migraine from low blood sugar if I go too long without eating, so perhaps drinking some orange juice between meals would help tide me over.

  7. Augustin57 says:

    mamajen, you might try taking the herb feverfew for your migranes. I read recently that it’s supposed to work.

  8. NoTambourines says:

    I struggle with this. And not in the sense politicians use where “I’ve struggled with this” means “and I’m folding like a tent.”

    It’s a hereditary thing: my constitution is very sensitive to low blood sugar. I can’t skip a meal and sticking to meal times (particularly lunch) is essential. I’m also not far at the moment from being considered underweight.

    I always worry I’m not doing enough on fast days, while trying to strike a balance between upholding the obligation and being able to function at work.

    How about a caloric estimate? Or percentage of normal intake? That might help me quantify what I ought to be doing. [I wouldn’t work on this so hard. If you have a physical condition that makes fasting truly risky, you are not obliged. You can also ask your parish priest to give you a dispensation. Then you could perform a different penance. Dispensations from fasting should be requested for good reasons, not just because you would like to go to a party or something.]

  9. Sandy says:

    Glad to know about brushing teeth not breaking the Communion fast. I had been wondering about this because of something I read elsewhere.

  10. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I’ll still enjoy my Mystic Monk coffee throughout Lent (Midnight Vigils blend), but so as to be penitential, it’ll be weak coffee.

  11. robtbrown says:

    priests wife says:
    no animal products at all

    Does that mean to exclude fish? Or does it mean to exclude sweet breads and milk? What about using octopus ink?

  12. FrCharles says:

    The tobacco thing is no joke. Just a couple of Sundays ago, one of the friars came to me having confiscated a tin of tobacco from his Confirmation class that meets before the afternoon Mass, and we wondered together if one of the dear children had broken the fast.

  13. NoTambourines says:

    Thanks, Fr. Z!

  14. Margaret says:

    @Mamajen– the beverage thing is a lifesaver. A cup of tea with a little milk and a little sugar, between the snack-in-lieu-of-a-meal, is the only thing that keeps me sane and able to function on fast days.

  15. priests wife says:

    robtbrown- here’s something more involved:
    Weekly Fast
    Unless a fast-free period has been declared, we are to keep a strict fast every Wednesday and Friday. The following foods are avoided:
    Meat, including poultry, and any meat products such as lard and meat broth.
    Fish (meaning fish with backbones; shellfish are permitted).
    Eggs and dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, etc.)
    Olive oil. A literal interpretation of the rule forbids only olive oil. Especially where olive oil is not a major part of the diet, the rule is sometimes taken to include all vegetable oils, as well as oil products such as margarine.
    Wine and other alcoholic drink. In the Slavic tradition, beer is often permitted on fast days.

    How Much?
    Sad to say, it is easy to keep the letter of the fasting rule and still practice gluttony. When fasting, we should eat simply and modestly. Monastics eat only one full meal a day on strict fast days, two meals on “Wine and oil” days (see below). Laymen are not usually encouraged to limit meals in this way: consult your priest.

    The Church has always exempted small children, the sick, the very old, and pregnant and nursing mothers from strict fasting. While people in these groups should not seriously restrict the amount that they eat, no harm will come from doing without some foods on two days out of the week — simply eat enough of the permitted foods. Exceptions to the fast based on medical necessity (as with diabetes) are always allowed.”

    most importantly- St John Chrysostom said- “what good is it to abstain from chicken and fish if we devour our neighbors?”

  16. rcg says:

    About the smoothie: When I was a kid there was nothing more frustrating than waiting for the milkshake to melt enough to go through the straw. So maybe you should make a “Liquidum non frangit ieiunium” straw.

    Besides, the fast is my gift to God. I hate it when I can’t find the right gift for a loved one, of have to settle for something less than I wanted to give just so they would have something. How could I cheapen the gift by cheating?

  17. Sword40 says:

    Whew, I thought Fr. Z was going to tell us that Mystic Monk coffee is considered a extravagant food.
    You know, as in Lobster for Fridays. I can survive now.

  18. jfk03 says:

    Many Byzantine Catholics follow the traditional Orthodox fasting rules. Archimandrite Kallistos Ware has summarized the fasting rules in an excellent introduction to the Lenten Triodion — one of the service books used during the Great Fast. I will attempt to summarize his summary in a few words:

    During the week before Lent (Cheesefare Week), meat is forbidden but eggs, cheese and dairy products may be eaten on all days. On weekdays during the seven weeks of Lent, there are restrictions on both number of meals taken daily and on the types of food permitted.

    The fast is most rigorous during the first week. According to the strict observance, in the course of five initial days of Lent, only two meals are eaten — one on Wednesday and the other on Friday, after the Liturgy of the Presanctified. However, in my experience most Eastern Catholics do not keep the strict observance.

    Generally during Lent, meat, poultry, animal products (eggs, cheese, dairy), wine (and alcohol), and olive oil are not permitted, nor is fish (except for shellfish and other fish without backbones and blood, such as mussels and shrimp). During the rest of Lent, one meal a day is permitted. Oil is permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. During the first three days of Holy Week, one meal per day. Holy Thursday, one meal with wine and oil permitted. On Great Friday, those with the strength to do so observe a complete fast. Same with Holy Saturday, except that a simple meal of bread, dried fruit and wine is taken after the evening Liturgy. There are other rules, too.

    The author points out that the rules of fasting, while they need to be taken seriously, are not to be interpreted with dour and pedantic legalism: “for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17.)

  19. guatadopt says:

    For Lent I plan on abiding by the obligatory fast from Ash Wesnesday through the Wednesday before Holy Thursday (no fasting for me on Holy Thursday). This will be interesting. I shall offer up my fast for the intentions of the good readers on this blog :) [And for me too?]

  20. spirit407 says:

    I would buy one of those mugs. :) thanks for the info.

  21. benedetta says:

    Great to recognize that Mystic Monk coffee may go with my Lenten journey.

  22. RichardT says:

    How does the timing of fast days work?

    What if I am out in the pub on Shrove Tuesday, perhaps celebrating my wife’s success in the village pancake race, come back after midnight and feel like some pate on toast? Being after midnight, technically it would be Wednesday, but has the Ash Wednesday fast started? It wouldn’t feel like it.

    Similarly but at the other end of the day, if I am up late on Ash Wednesday, can I wait until after midnight and pour myself a glass of wine? That would feel wrong, but is it?

    This isn’t just theoretical; it’s ten past midnight here, and I’m having a last snack (Black Sheep ale and a duck liver pate, since we tend to be interested in food around here). And yes, I know it’s bad for me to eat late at night, but I want to know if it’s bad for my soul if I do so tomorrow night.

    [If it doesn’t seem right to do something, you probably shouldn’t do it. Yes, Ash Wednesday, starts at Midnight. But “morally” it still seems like Tuesday if you have been up all day. There have been times when I have finished saying a day’s office (breviary) after midnight and I do so without any qualms about solar time or civil time. For me it just seems to be the same day until I go to bed. Even though I use the phrase Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist from time to time, I don’t think we should be robots about this stuff.]

  23. APX says:

    Why people drink coffee to quench thirst is beyond me. It’s a diuretic, so it has the complete opposite effect.

  24. digdigby says:

    From Digby’s “Mores Catholici” :

    St. Francis of Assisi ate meat on a strict fast day. He was with poor and pious invalids who had a dispensation and were instructed to eat meat by their doctor but they were ashamed to do it in front of Francis . Francis immediately took a piece of the meat and ate it to put them at ease.

  25. Stephen Matthew says:

    Of those I know who use dip or chew, they don’t think it is proper to use it in the one hour before communion. Essentially they figure if gum is close enough to food to break the fast, and if coffee and tea are as well, certainly their solid/liquid nicotine habit should wait until after, too.

  26. ContraMundum says:

    For many of us, coffee is almost a medicine.

  27. Mike says:

    When we fast, we dine with the angels.

    Don’t know who said that; but I like it.

  28. dochm13 says:

    The bit about tobacco not breaking the fast… was this in reference to the Lenten fast or does it also apply to the Eucharistic fast? [IMO, it would break the Eucharistic fast.]

  29. jesusthroughmary says:

    @Augustin57 –

    Since you have already celebrated your 59th birthday and have begun your 60th year, you are not obliged to fast.

  30. APX says:

    I was told from a priest that the reason we don’t chew gum before or during communion was because we wouldn’t do it if we were meeting Stephen Harper. *eye roll* Pfft! I would. It took me a lot of strength not to say something arrogant and uncharitable to that.

  31. Reginald Pole says:

    RichardT says:
    How does the timing of fast days work?

    I would suggest choosing a method for calculating a day: sunset to sunset (old liturgical method) or midnight to midnight (modern civil method) and stick with it. No cheating with “today we’ll do sunset to sunset but tomorrow it’ll be more convenient midnight to midnight.” It is the inconvenience of fasting that matters, not the method you use to calculate the day.

  32. discipulus says:

    OK, I need some help here, I attended an EF mass yesterday where the celebrant mentioned that those age 21 and older are bound to observe fast days, and I just turned 18 last fall. However, I am in my final year of high school, and have a lot of work I need to do in less that 85 days, and I don’t believe I can do all my work and fast at the same time. Under the circumstances I am in, would I still be bound under that obligation. [I believe the age is 18 in the USA and in the UK. The Church goes by the age of majority in the place where you are, as I understand it.]


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  36. Cathy says:

    Where I work I actually operate a yogurt smoothie machine. As operator, I am required to taste for consistency and flavor. During Lent, I taste and spit it out into a trash can. If I accidentally swallow the product, well, there goes 1 snack. [I recall from the manuals that tasting food as a cook during the food’s preparation is okay insofar as the Lenten fast or abstinence is concerned. But were you to say, “I had better have an entire smoothie just to see if it is okay”, you would have gone too far. Otherwise, say on Ash Wednesday you were preparing a stew from beef for your family to eat on Thursday. You could taste it to make sure it was okay, but that is all. Tasting during preparation of food isn’t the same as intending to eat food. However, I would avoid doing this within a period of one hour before reception of Communion. That is a bit doubtful, IMHO. This would be an issue for, say, a priest in a parish who has something going on the stove or in the oven who then goes to say Mass, during which – within an hour’s time, he would consume the Eucharist.]

  37. Baron Korf says:

    A question I was asked, and wasn’t sure on the answer, was “Does Chicken flavor instant ramen count as meat?” Can you enlighten me? [Good question. It seems that, judging from the information on a package I happen to have, there is chicken involved. That isn’t entirely obvious judging from the flavor.


    If the flavoring powder reconstitutes truly as chicken broth the old manualists write that we cannot eat it on a day of abstinence. The OLD Code explicitly forbade broth from meat (1917 can. 1250) and therefore moral theologians had to figure out what “ius ex carne” was. Since we are Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists, we check our manuals. In Sabetti-Barrett I read:

    “Quid sonet jus ex carne? Resp. Jus proprie est liquor eorum quae coquuntur (broth); jus ex carne, liquor carnis coctae; chicken-broth, mutton-broth, beef-broth, etc. Adeps distinguitur a jusculo; “illa” ait Alberti in libro, De Jejunio Ecclesiastico, “est substantia levis quae in vase supernatat, istud vero manet solutum in aqua.”

    So, we learn that “iusculum” is that light substance which floats on top in the pot, but it remains dissolved in the water”. if we argue that the liquid with the dissolved powder for the ramen is more along the lines of “iusculum” than it is “ius”, then we could eat that on Ash Wednesday. If we say it is broth, we can’t eat it. Given the fact that the chicken component is somewhat down the line on the list of ingredients, I think we can assume that there isn’t much as much of it involved as one might suppose without reading it. Otherwise, why not just have a vegetarian ramen and eliminate the doubt?]

  38. JaneC says:

    discipulus– I am obviously not a priest, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Latin Catholics are currently bound to only two fast days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The other Fridays of Lent are for abstinence but not fasting. If you attend an EF Mass regularly, it’s possible that you have been encouraged to follow older, stricter fasting laws–it is praiseworthy to do this, but you are not obligated to (depending on what your parents or guardians may ask of you; if you’re still living in their house, you owe them a certain amount of obedience even though you’re legally and adult). The older laws stated that the obligation to fast began at age 21, and abstinence at age 7. Now the law is as Father stated above–one is obligated to observe the fast at age 18, and abstinence at age 14.

    When I was a freshman in college, I did a 40-hour fast. No solid food, only water and Gatorade and fruit juice. I went to classes as usual, did the usual amount of walking that one does on a college campus, did my homework, and even got up in the middle of the night to adore the Blessed Sacrament. It didn’t affect my classwork or do me any harm, and I was only 17. In fact, I found that the fast brought great clarity of mind, once I got past the distraction of being hungry.

    Unless your school/work obligations on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday include sports practice or working in a field or something physically taxing like that, there shouldn’t be any reason why a young, healthy person cannot observe both fast and abstinence.

  39. LisaP. says:

    I’ve always been reluctant to ask these questions because, frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted clarity!

    I had a conversation some time ago (with someone critical of the Church) where I was told he learned growing up that eating meat on Fridays was a mortal sin. [Back in the day, for most people that was in fact the case. But the law were changed along the way.]

    I know the fasts and abstinence rules during Lent are an obligation — does that mean that disregarding them is a mortal sin? [Disregarding? Yes. I think it would be.] How about breaking them despite your intention to follow them? How about forgetting? [If you forget, honestly forget, it is not a sin. We might then have to consider if you were being negligent about something that was important. But to be guilty of something sinful it has to be voluntary, with the will engaged.]

    And outside of the Lenten season, are we to still observe Friday abstinence? [In England, Catholics are now asked by the bishop’s conference to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year which aren’t solemnities, such as Christmas.] Can a different sacrifice be substituted on your own, without talking to a priest? Is missing or disregarding that abstinence an actual sin? [It is possible to substitute Friday abstinence. You can also get a dispensation from your parish priest.]

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  41. AnnAsher says:

    What if ones morning coffee with flavored imitation cream is not drunk for food nor thirst but because it is a little slice of heaven at the start of the day? Is this a snack? Is this free non fast breaking fluid? It’s a serious question. [Sounds like this would be a good thing willingly to give up on a day such as Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. I think you have to make a judgment based on whether you are drinking this for thirst or for nourishment or simply for pleasure and then apply common sense.]

    I found online a detail of Eastern Catholic fasting laws, the traditional devout practices in addition and the common compromises. I used to to make my own marriage of east and west Lenten Fast 2012.

    Here’s a nice little graph of the Eastern Canons for Great Lent

  42. AnnAsher says:

    And here is the Law, the Traditions and the Common Compromises

    Maybe one day I’ll be a real EC and not just a wannabe ;)

  43. AnnAsher says:

    Discipulus – your EF Priest was quoting the former law before 1983.
    You would be surprised how much work you can do while abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on two days on all of Lent. [Indeed. Back in the day, Wednesday was also a penitential day. ] Especially when to fast means you take one full meal and two snacks. It really is a gentle requirement and it is a good mortification for the body and the soul. Try not to be downhearted – you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Surely in your busy schedule you have worked through some meal times in the past and survived ?

    [On a wall calendar sent me by the nice people at Angelus Press (yes, the SSPX group) there are little Charlie the Tuna symbols to indicate the old-fashioned way to fast and abstain. Here are a couple shots of the calendar with the spiffy fishy symbols.



  44. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Deliberately disregarding an obligation is a mortal sin but forgetting is not. I forgot once and was all scared until my priest filled me in.

    I suppose coffee with extra stuff in it so you are not drinking for thirst is a snack but call it “for thirst” anyway, as coffee is usually used in that way, as well as for the drug content. And you have to drink something in the morning. I sometimes start the day with a glass of water and it seems very much like a “non-starter.”

  45. Justin_Kolodziej says:

    Even the old rules for fasting for all of Lent were pretty gentle (I found them in the Catholic Encyclopedia from 1909 thanks to New Advent):

    The quantity of food allowed at this meal has never been made the subject of positive legislation. Whosoever therefore eats a hearty or sumptuous meal in order to bear the burden of fasting satisfies the obligation of fasting. Any excess during the meal mitigates against the virtue of temperance, without jeopardizing the obligation of fasting.

    ….Finally, unless special reasons suggest the contrary, it is not allowed to give immoderate length to the time of this meal. Ordinarily,a duration of more than two hours is considered immoderate in this matter.

    Besides a complete meal, the Church now permits a collation usually taken in the evening. In considering this point proper allowance must be made for what custom has introduced regarding both the quantity and the quality of viands allowed at this repast. In the first place, about eight ounces of food are permitted at the collation even though this amount of food would fully satisfy the appetites of some persons.

    I think the current rule, extremely paraphrased, is “one full meal and two smaller portions, sufficient to maintain strength but combined less than another full meal”. But I am not sure if there are any further limits on the full meal.

    Finally, a while ago in a bulletin or the church newspaper a suggestion for a “more traditional” fast was to eat nothing until sunset, then have prayers and a simple meal. Just something to think about.

    [You are right about the old laws not being all that hard. It just goes to show that when make things too easy, people get the message that doing them isn’t important. Thus, we make the Lenten and Eucharist fasts too easy and most Catholics now disregard them. We made the rubrics for Mass too easy, thin and ambiguous, and removed the moral warning about sin concerning them, and many priests felt free to disregard them. We move some Holy Days of Obligation to Sundays, and people stop going to Mass on those that are not transferred. We stop talking about moral issues of real importance in people’s daily lives and now we read polls that say Catholics don’t pay any attention to the Church’s moral teachings. We make Mass into a didactic moment and reduce the language to the lowest denominator and people stop going to Mass or let belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist slip away. I’m ranting. I’ll stop now.]

  46. xzsdfweiuy says:

    This will not be the first Lent where I enter it on a diet, with the additional
    cross this year of not feeling well in general. Dieting makes the Ash Wed / Good Friday rules
    particularly “interesting”. Perhaps I’ll eat half of my allowed WeightWatchers (r)
    points in one bigger and two smaller feedings and call it good.

    [If you have a health condition which makes fasting a true problem, the law is relaxed for you. You can also ask the parish priest for a dispensation and commute the work to something else. On an entirely different note, a different, somewhat more human “handle” or username would sure be nice! I sure like seeing handles that I can grasp.]

  47. pinoytraddie says:

    Sorry! Can’t FAST even now I’m 18. Metabolism Problems I Suppose!

  48. robtbrown says:

    priest’s wife,

    From what you say, a bag of Five Guys’ fries (cooked in Peanut Oil) would be permitted. That’s my kind of fast.

  49. pgoings says:

    The evolution of the laws of fasting and abstinence in the Latin Church is a fascinating subject. The following is from an English Primer (a prayer book for laymen) from 1780, found on the Internet Archive, and it gives a summary of the fasting and abstinence days to be observed by ordinary English Roman Catholics at that time. (Of course, many people were dispensed, for one reason or another, but that’s always the case.)

    The fasting (which includes abstinence) days are:

    1. The forty days of Lent.

    2. The Ember Days.

    3. The Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent.

    4. The Vigils of Pentecost, Ss. Peter and Paul, the Assumption, All Saints, and Christmas.

    5. All Fridays of the year, except between Easter and Pentecost, and except on days when a Holy Day of Obligation or Suppressed Holy Day (of which there were about thirty during the year) falls, unless during Advent, Lent, or an Ember Week.

    The abstinence (only) days are:

    1. The Sundays in Lent.

    2. The Rogation Days.

    3. S. Mark’s Day (April 25), unless it falls during Easter Week.

    4. Fridays which are excepted from fasting above.

    5. Saturdays, outside of Lent and the Ember Weeks. But if Christmas falls on a Friday or Saturday, abstinence is not observed.

    This seems much closer to what is prescribed for Eastern Catholics than what was prescribed for Latins during the early part of the 20th century.

  50. Precentrix says:


    You are not obliged to fast on every day of Lent – only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Even if you attend the EF, you are still under the same canon law as every other Latin-rite Catholic, the 1983 one. If the 1917 Code still applied, you wouldn’t be obligated to fast anyway, because the bottom age in that one is 21. So don’t worry about it, except on the two days and keeping to abstinence from meat on Fridays.

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  52. orich says:

    I wonder if drinking an energy drink breaks Ash Wednesday fast? Is that a snack? Its not nutritious. Is it considered just a drink? It isn’t just for thirst. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I’d appreciate it as I am falling asleep while writing this…

  53. ScottS says:

    [If it doesn’t seem right to do something, you probably shouldn’t do it. Yes, Ash Wednesday, starts at Midnight. But “morally” it still seems like Tuesday if you have been up all day. There have been times when I have finished saying a day’s office (breviary) after midnight and I do so without any qualms about solar time or civil time. For me it just seems to be the same day until I go to bed. Even though I use the phrase Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist from time to time, I don’t think we should be robots about this stuff.]

    I’ve long been in the habit of mentally switching to “tomorrow” at midnight. It started in college when I was more likely to be still awake at sunrise rather than waking up before it. So at this point, if I happen to be awake at 2 AM, I will instinctively think of after sunrise as “today” rather than “tomorrow”

    Consequently, I tend to interpret fasting/abstinence/etc from midnight to midnight. My thought was that this was reasonable, as long as applied consistently. i.e. I never eat meat after midnight on Thursday — if I have a post-midnight snack, it’s meatless. If I happen to be eating something well after midnight on Friday, I’d be willing to include meat in the mix. What wouldn’t seem right would be to apply the sunset vs. midnight vs. bedtime rules inconsistently such that the duration of the fast or abstinence period is something less than 24 hours.

    Another reason to suggest that the start/stop fasting/abstinence at midnight is OK (vs. waiting for bedtime to “switch”) is the fact that, traditionally, Feasting for Christmas begins after Midnight Mass (ending the Christmas Eve fast) rather than when you go to bed — and likewise for Easter following the late-night vigil.

  54. Clemente says:

    We are all complaining about TWO FAST DAYS (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) of Lent and remember nothing that Fasting was required during all 40 days of Lent and Abstinence began at age 7. Can’t we do these two days standing on our head? And oh, btw, partial abstinence was observed all throughout the season of Lent.

    A reminder on Ember days of Lent falls on Wednesday, Feb 29 (Fast and partial abstinence); Friday, Mar 2 (Fast and Abstinence); Saturday, Mar 3 (Fast and partial abstinence).

  55. Supertradmum says:

    I know we had this discussion before, but there is no reason why children cannot fast unless they have some type of illness. I grew up fasting from midnight before Communion the next morning, going to daily Mass and carrying breakfast in a sack to school. We ordered milk for breakfast and the nuns passed it out. Then, the law changed to three hours before. We were healthy kids, running around the playground, walking to school (no buses in those days) and playing lots of sports. It was not a problem. When the law changed to one hour, we adjusted but some of us kept the longer fast anyway. When we were living in an area where we had bishops’ permission to belong to the Byzantine Catholic Church, we fasted during Lent from all dairy on Tuesday and Thursday, and all meat and meat products on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The kids did the same as their parents.

  56. lajmh says:

    All I have in the morning is a small chocolate milk, that’s my breakfast. It’s as much to satisfy thirst as nourishment. I then have my main meal at lunch, I try as late as possible. I usually have just eggs or cereal or a bowl of soup that may or may not constitute a full meal. I’m one of those that can have a simple tossed salad as a full meal in of itself so very confused. [Reminder: It’s Thursday. But your point about being able to fast is taken.]