Good Friday FASTING and ABSTINENCE explained, links to recipes, notes about what breaks the fast, 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.

  5. teomatteo says:

    I am not virtue signalling nor making lite of good friday but back in my youth when i was a vega… meat eating person, i felt compelled TO eat meat on good friday. Penetential for my pride for sure. What a day this is.

  6. JesusFreak84 says:

    At least in the UGCC Eparchy of Chicago, little is still binding under pain of sin, sadly. I’m a Latin, but IIRC the UGCC in Chicago basically does the same thing Latins do, in terms of what and how much food. It’s “encouraged” to offer the traditional fast, but…

  7. BrionyB says:

    The mention of eating (??) a tobacco quid made me realize I have probably inadvertently broken the fast already. I gave up smoking this Lent and have been easing the cravings with nicotine lozenges – not gum (which presumably would have been OK) but the hard “sweets” that you let dissolve in your mouth and gradually swallow. Had three already out of habit before it occurred to me that this is not really compatible with fasting. Not to mention somewhat diminishing the penance of giving up the cigarettes. But what’s done is done…

  8. CanukFrank says:

    ‘Modern’ Catholic fasting twice a year, 2 measly days out of 365? 1 big meal, 2 small ‘snacks’? Whoo, boy. It’s kind of a weeny, milquetoasty requirement isn’t it? Especially compared to our forefathers’ requirements or what our Orthodox brothers and sisters practice or what ordinary Muslims do for Ramadan. Anyway, for the longest while, since returning to The Faith, I tended to ‘interpret’ the ‘2-small-snacks’ part quite loosely i.e. as long as both combined do not equal the 1 big meal, as is well. My ‘1-Big-Meal’ used to be MASSIVE, so my ‘2 snacks’ could, legitimately, be 2 halves of an equally massive meal. Very legal, very Pharisee-like, right? Deep down, though?

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, after listening to Taylor Marshall’s podcast on the topic, I tried to fast until 3pm on Wednesday & Fridays, have a tiny snack of almonds or strawberries to tide me over until supper and then eat just enough at supper to ensure I go to bed still feeling hungry. What a difference and what a challenge! The hunger pangs are real, uncomfortable and can put a real kink in one’s demeanour throughout the day enabling me to reflect often on Christ’s sacrifice for us whilst trying to stay cheerful and not to “make a meal of it” (pardon the analogy).

  9. LeeGilbert says:

    Couple of things. . . .

    From the standpoint of a 78 yr old it’s kind of amazing and a little insulting really that the fasting requirement still ends at age 59. Back in the day, it made sense but with lifespans longer, better understanding of nutrition, and many robust old timers darting about, surely there should be something in canon law to the effect that 69 is the new 59 and if your health warrants it, you should fast.

  10. LeeGilbert says:

    I’ll admit to being overawed at one time by the Orthodox fast, but then discovered that they permit divorce and re-marriage. This is very biblical in its way and is known as straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Their Lenten fast is very impressive, but they swallow camels all year long.

    As for the Muslims, their Ramadan fast is also very impressive, but at one time we had a large influx of Pakistani Muslims move into our complex, with three Muslims families in succession living below us. They may fast all day, but come sundown they feast magnificently judging by the savory odors wafting up to our envious noses. They also eat before sun-up. This is a fast? If only they would fast from beating their wives, for in every case the sound of beatings and weeping also came up to our attention. As moral exemplars the Muslims leave a lot to be desired.

  11. LeeGilbert says:

    When we consider the Lenten fasting requirements of old, surely we come off as wimps. Two days of fasting! And six or seven days of abstinence. And yet . . .

    When people on such a carbohydrate-rich diet as we have fast, the result is totally predictable low blood sugar and naturally resultant “snake brain,” in other words, irritability and a tendency to anger. I saw many instances of this back in the day, both in my parents and only twenty years ago in our pastor who was keeping the old fast.

    If we were on a different physiological basis, the keto diet for example, keeping such a strenuous fast would not be so physiologically and emotionally disruptive, but would not lack either hunger pains, sacrifice or growth in virtue. My supposition is that post-war plenty plus fasting gave rise to so many incidents in the experience of pastors of the time that they thought it better to cut back on the requirement for the sake of peace in families and in the parish. They weren’t wrong!

  12. KateriK says:

    Thank you, Father, for the delicious recipes and the interesting facts about “Mr. Chickpea.” We are enjoying Pasta e ceci alla Romana as part of our single meal today. Grazie! Buon appetito!

  13. matt from az says:

    I ate a fish sandwich at Burger King and washed it down with an unsweetened ice tea.
    Eating at Burger King is penance enough, is it not? My wife tempted me with an Oreo milkshake, and my concupiscent side tried to justify it by saying it was part of my meal. The scrupulous side of me was victorious and I went back to my fishwich without so much as a sip of milkshake.

    I’m not sure why people find fasting and abstaining onerous. It’s only two days a year! It’s not like the Church has demanded we drink beet juice or anything evil like that. Fish is good, except when my mother cooks it. Now THAT is penance.

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