Good Friday – FASTING and ABSTINENCE explained, with links to recipes and notes about what breaks the fast and what doesn’t

It’s Good Friday!   Here are a couple of recipes for good food for this day of fasting and abstinence.   Since I made the lentils, by the way, I now have celery and I won’t have to improvise.

Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Lentils from the Benedictine Monks of Norcia. IMPROVISE – ADAPT – OVERCOME

Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Pasta e ceci alla Romana

On only two days of the year we modern Latin Church Catholics are asked both to fast and to abstain from meat.

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 and Good Friday.

Here are some details. I have posted them before, and 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 – two snacks that don’t add up to a full meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Since we are Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists, we pay attention to old manuals.  Prümmer suggests that for the morning snack a piece of bread and 2 ounces of nourishing food is sufficient, and that for the afternoon or evening snack, 8 ounces of nourishing food is permitted to all.  “Sufficient” for what is not entirely clear.  There is a difference between working construction and working at a computer.  This is greatly simplified by taking Good Friday off… if possible.

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.

For Eastern Catholics there are differences concerning dates and practices. Our Eastern friends can fill us Latins in.  As I understand, the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in these USA has followed the Latin rite to a certain extent.  Abstinence from meat is required on all Wednesdays and Fridays of Great Lent, with the the strict fast (abstinence from meat and dairy) on Clean Monday and Good Friday.

The question always comes up….

How about in between?

The other day I had a question via email about vaping.   Vaping!   One can, indeed, “vape”.  However, wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to give it up for a day?


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 do 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 or Good Friday.

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 – because tooth powder was in use back in the day).

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.

There’s always the Liquidum non frangit ieiunium mug.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Clinton R. says:

    If I remember correctly, Father, you have also previously stated we should feel our hunger during days of fasting. Our Lord said there are demons that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. May our fasts cast out this demon of corona virus. God bless you, Father.

  2. ordovirginum says:

    Music is allowed :) so here’s an excellent performance by a Korean Catholic Choir with orchestra.
    In two videos. Total under an hour. Latin words plus translation below.
    Les Sept Paroles Du Christ (The Seven Last Words of Christ) composed by Théodore Dubois (1837-1924).
    Part I –

    Part II –

    O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite, et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.Posuit me Dominus desolatam, tota die moerore confectamne vocetis me Noemi, sed vocate me Mara.
    All you who travel upon the highway, pay attention to me and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. The Lord has treated me bitterly. Call me Naomi (pleasantness) no longer, instead call me Mara (bitterness).

    First Word
    “Pater, dimitte illis, non enim sciunt, quid faciunt.”
    Et dicebant omnes: “Reus est mortis, reus est mortis! Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum! Sanguis eius super nos et super filios nostros.” Crucifixerunt Jesum et latrones, unum a dextris et alterum a sinistris.
    “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
    And they all said: “He should be punished with death; take him, take him, crucify him. Let his blood be on us and on our children.” They crucified Jesus and the thieves, one at his right hand and the other at his left.

    Second Word
    “Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso, amen, amen, dico tibi.”
    “Domine, memento mei cum veneris in regnum tuum.”
    “Amen, Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
    “Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom.”

    Third Word
    “Mulier, ecce filius tuus.”
    Stabat Mater dolorosa iuxta crucem lacrymosa, dum pendebat Filius. Quis est homo, qui non fleret, Christi Matrem si videret, in tanto supplicio?
    “Woman, behold your Son.”
    The grieving Mother stands crying at the cross, while her Son suffers punishment. Who is the person who would not weep seeing Christ’s Mother in such torment?

    Fourth Word
    “Deus Meus, ut quid dereliquisti Me? Omnes amici Mei dereliquerunt Me! Praevaluerunt insidiantes Mihi! Tradidit Me quem diligebam. Vinea Mea electa, Ego te plantavi! Quomodo conversa es in amaratudine ut Me crucifigeres?”
    “My God, why have you deserted Me? All of My friends have deserted Me! Those who hate Me have prevailed! The one whom I loved betrayed Me. My chosen vine, I planted you; why has your taste turned so bitter that now you crucify Me?”

    Fifth Word
    Judaei praetereuntes blasphemabant eum, moventes capita sua et dicentes:“Vah! Vah! Vah! Qui destruis templum Dei, si Tu es Christus, Filius Dei, descende nunc de cruce, ut videamus et credamus Tibi. Si Tu es Rex Judaeorum, salvum Te fac.”
    “I thirst!”
    The Jews who were passing by blasphemed him, shaking their heads and saying: “Bah! Bah! Bah! So You would destroy the temple of God! If you are Christ, the Son of God, come down now from the cross so that we may see it and believe in You. If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

    Sixth Word
    “Pater, in manus Tuas commendo spiritum Meum. Pater Meus es Tu, Deus Meus, Susceptor salutis Meae. In manus Tuas commendo spiritum Meum.”
    Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit. You are My Father, My God, My Savior. Into Your hands I commend My spirit.”

    Seventh Word
    Et clamans Jesus voce magna dixit: “Consummatum est!”
    Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum. Erat autem fere hora sexta: obscuratus est sol. Et tenebrae factae sunt in universam terram! Velum templi scissum est! Omnis terra tremuit! Petrae scissa et monumenta aperta sunt.
    And crying in a loud voice, Jesus said: “It is finished!”
    And with His head bowed, He gave up His spirit. It was, however, the (ninth) hour. The sun was obscure and darkness covered the entire earth! The veil of the temple was torn! The entire earth trembled! Rocks split apart and tombs were opened!

    Final Prayer
    Adoramus Te, Chiste, et benedicimus Tibi, quia per sanctam crucem Tuam redemisti mundum.
    We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

  3. ordovirginum says:

    To clarify, everything after the first two sentences in my comment above, have been copied from a comment on another website.

  4. Ages says:

    Byzantine Rite … Strict fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, no meat, dairy, poultry, wine, oil. All weekdays of Lent also follow this rule. Saturdays and Sundays of Lent (except Holy Saturday), wine and oil are allowed. Fish is allowed on Palm Sunday and Annunciation.

    On Good Friday it’s customary in monasteries to eat nothing at all, and to have just a little food after the Liturgy on Holy Saturday. Laymen who have the strength are encouraged to do so as well, as it won’t kill most of us not to eat for 36 hours. It’s sometimes said the Good Friday fast is so strict we do not even break it with the Eucharist; indeed, the Liturgy is not served on Holy Friday.

    Byzantine fasting is mainly concerned with kinds of food, not so much amounts. Though we are oft reminded that gluttony is a sin, even on Easter.

    Have a blessed Holy Saturday and a joyous Easter, all.

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