From a reader…
I know this is a bit early for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but I am curious (and excited about Lent). There’s a trend of putting butter into one’s coffee.
Basically it’s supposed to make you feel fuller longer and slow caffeine energy spikes. I know milk in coffee doesn’t break the fast ( not sure about honey instead of sugar), but would this break the fasting laws as well?
Firstly, it is good to be thinking about these things before Ash Wednesday. The Latin Church has two days of the year when most Catholics are obliged both the fast and to abstain from meat. While some wiggle room is allowed for the sick, or other factors, this covers the multitude. Since we have so few obligations as Catholics, it’s good to get them right.
To review, and this will come up again before Lent…
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 – 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, and Good Friday in the Triduum.
In general, when you have a medical condition of some kind, or you are pregnant, etc., these requirements can be relaxed.
You would do well to include works of mercy, both spiritual and corporal.
I also recommend making a good confession. 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? And can I put butter in it?!?”
Yes, you can have coffee and, yes, you can put butter in your coffee, as part of your full meal and two “snacks”(portions that wouldn’t make a full meal). There isn’t that much difference between putting cream in coffee and putting butter in coffee. Cream is milk with 30-55 percent of milkfat and is still liquid. Butter is a semisolid form of milk with 80 percent milkfat. Put a little of either one into coffee (presumably hot) and they dissolve into the coffee.
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 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, sports drinks such as “Gatorade”, etc.
Again, common sense applies, so figure it out.
Drinks such as coffee and tea do not break the Lenten fast even if they have a milk (cream, butter) 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 or Good Friday.
If you want to drink your coffee and tea with true merit I suggest drinking it from one of my coffee mugs.
There’s always the Liquidum non frangit ieiunium mug.