Lenten Fast & Abstinence
Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics, 14 years of age or older, on all Fridays during Lent (Code of Canon Law 1249-53). Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday (the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ) – all adults are bound by the law of fast until the beginning of their sixtieth year. On all the weekdays of Lent, the U.S. Bishops strongly encourage the faithful to participate in Mass and to observe a self-imposed fast. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening. Customarily, the two smaller “collations” when considered together, should not equal the main meal and ideally should be eaten only if needed to maintain one’s strength. (Instruction from the archdiocese of Mobile).
Lenten Giving Up
Self-Denial is about making a sacrifice that makes a difference, focusing us on the Cross and reminding ourselves what Christ gave up for us. Rev. Craig Gates of Jackson Mississippi has a great list of suggestions. He says we should:
GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, “In everything give thanks.” Constructive criticism is OK, but “moaning, groaning, and complaining” are not Christian disciplines.
GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion. A few minutes in prayer WILL keep you focused.
GIVE UP looking at other people’s worst attributes. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.
GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting or to offer a smile. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?
GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! They’re too heavy for you to carry anyway. Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God’s grace be sufficient.
GIVE UP TV one evening a week! Instead, visit (or telephone, these days), someone who’s lonely or sick; visit when this becomes possible again. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the “tube?” Give someone a precious gift: your time!
GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We’re called to be stewards of God’s riches, not consumers.
GIVE UP judging others by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ. (Billy D. Strayhorn, Cross Eyed: Focus)
Nine Things to Know about Lent (by Apologist Jimmy Akins)
1. What is Lent?
According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar [.pdf]: 27. Lent [is a liturgical season that] is ordered to preparing for the celebration of Easter, since the Lenten liturgy prepares for celebration of the Paschal Mystery both catechumens, by the various stages of Christian initiation, and the faithful, who recall their own Baptism and do penance.
2. Where does the word “Lent” come from?
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes: The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima: (French: carême, Italian: quarema, Spanish: cuaresma) meaning the “forty days”, or more literally the “fortieth day.” This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times.
3. When does Lent begin and end?
The Universal Norms state: 28. The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive. This mean that Lent begins at 12:01 a.m. on Ash Wednesday and runs to just before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday. As soon as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper starts, it’s a new liturgical season: Triduum.
4. Is Lent exactly forty days long as currently celebrated?
No, it’s actually a little longer than forty days. The number is approximate, for spiritual (liturgical) purposes.
5. Are the Sundays in Lent part of Lent?
Yes. See question 1 for the duration of Lent. It runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday. No exceptions are made for Sundays. Furthermore: 30. The Sundays of this time of year are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent [emphasis added]. The Sixth Sunday, on which Holy Week begins, is called, “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord,
6. Why is the number forty significant?
Pope Benedict XVI explains: “Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: ‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry’ (Mt 4:1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34:28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings19:8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.” [Message for Lent 2009].
7. What are the rules for fasting in Lent?
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast. The law of fast binds those who are from 18 to 59 years old, unless they are excused for a sufficient reason (e.g., a medical condition that requires more frequent food, etc.). According to the Church’s official rules (as opposed to someone’s personal summary of them): The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom [Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini, Norms, III:2]. The system of mitigated fasting that is required by law thus allows for “one full meal” and “some food” in the morning and evening. The Church’s official document governing the practice of fasting does not encourage scrupulous calculations about how much the two instances of “some food” add up to, though obviously each individually is less than a full meal, since only one of those is allowed.
8. What are the rules for abstinence in Lent?
Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence (as well as Good Friday). An exception is if a solemnity falls on a Friday. In Lent 2021, The Solemnity of Saint Joseph Spouse of the Blessed Virgin , March 19, falls on Friday. The law of abstinence binds those who are 14 years old or older. According to the Church’s official rules: The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat [Paenitemini, Norms III:1].
9. Do you have to give up something for Lent?
If you do, can you have it on Sundays? The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you. (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-lent.
SOURCE: FR. ANTONY KADAHVIL