Ash Wednesday – Fasting, Abstinence, and You (with notes on alligator, endothermic moonfish, &, of course, muskrat

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 on 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?”

You can, of course, coffee with and as part of your full meal and two “snacks”.  No question there.

How about in between meals on Ash Wednesday?

The old axiom, for the Lenten fast, is “Liquidum non frangit ieiuniumliquid does not break the fast”, provided – NB – 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.

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).

Concerning the consumption of alligator and crocodile – HERE  I included notes also on the eating of endothermic moonfish, peptonized beef, and muskrat… just in case.

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.

I just happen to have available a “Liquidum non frangit ieiunium” mug!  HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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5 Comments

  1. Gaetano says:

    There is no single Eastern practice for the Great Lent, but here is the Ukrainian practice:

    Week before Lent (Cheesefare Week): Meat and other animal products are prohibited, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.

    First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness.) For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided.

    On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins.

    Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: No meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil (typically olive oil).

    Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.

    Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted.

    The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day.

    After St. Basil’s Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.

    Wine and oil are permitted on several feast days if they fall on a weekday during Lent. On Annunciation and Palm Sunday, fish is also permitted.

  2. Fr AJ says:

    I’ve heard from a number of parishioners who say they are “not in to Lent” this year because of Covid, that they’ve been living a sort of Lent for the past 11 months. Not sure how to approach the season with that in people’s minds this year.

  3. JustaSinner says:

    So, if you’re keto and IF, does it count? I only eat in a six hour window daily. Gave up sugar and carbs…

    [You might check out my LENTCAzT.]

  4. Ages says:

    Fr AJ: at our sermon Sunday we were warned to get serious about Lent this year if we want God to let us go back to normal life, because if this wasn’t enough to shake us up, we won’t enjoy what comes next. Not everyone responds well to hellfire and brimstone, but it made me sit up straight.

  5. SpesNostra says:

    Would drinking milk break the fast? Thanks, Fr. Z.

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