Remember! Tomorrow is #AshWednesday – Fast and abstinence!

hubert Salentine Theives in the church altar boysRemember that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.  Keep in mind the regulations for both abstinence and fasting.  Tomorrow is not just a day of abstinence but also of fasting.

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.  Easterners, check your regulations, although you should already be at it.

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.

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:

Pascha_2015_g_1024x1024GO 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 ieiuniumliquid 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 a cuppa (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 – from the days of tooth powder, which is rarer now).

If you want to drink your coffee and tea with true merit I suggest drinking it from one of my coffee mugs, in particular those I depicted here and also the new CLEMENT XIV mug. 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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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9 Responses to Remember! Tomorrow is #AshWednesday – Fast and abstinence!

  1. Mary Jane says:

    Thank you for these reminders, Fr Z.

    I went to confession on Sunday. Part of our family’s plan for Lent includes Stations of the Cross on Fridays and eating more simple, non-fancy meals (no more nice cuts of beef and no more Blue Bell ice cream until Easter!).

  2. Absit invidia says:

    To paraphrase the movie Rudy:
    ‘If you make the “Liquidum non frangit ieiunium” mug . . . I’ll be there.’

    [Ummm… it’s already available.]

  3. LeeF says:

    What about beer? Or whiskey? :)

  4. Grant M says:

    Thanks for the information, Father. I’m 59 and not well, so it was interesting to see that I’m no longer required to fast.

  5. Ellen says:

    I’m 65 and technically not bound by fasting but I do it anyway. For Lent for the past several years I have given up meat, and all desserts (even on Sundays) and snacks. I go to the Stations of the Cross on Friday and, following the Benedictine Rule, I read a spiritual book during Lent. This year I am going to read the first volume of the Life of Christ by Pope Benedict XVI and my favorite Catholic novel, In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden.

  6. Melissa Johnson says:

    You snagged me. I have just ordered my own Liquidum non frangit mug.

    This will be fantastic in my office…

  7. JamesA says:

    Mary Jane, among other things I’m giving up the Blue Bell, also. What a sacrifice ! ;)

  8. MikeS says:

    Thanks Father. I would have had a much more productive morning if I had seen this yesterday and read the bit about coffee not breaking the Ash Wednesday fast ;)

  9. Sonshine135 says:

    Father, what is the title of the painting with the altar boys taking swigs off the wine? I tried searching for it on the Internet, but was unsuccessful. Thank you.