This post comes from the CSSI study, Lent: The Road to Redemption.
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Fasting involves refraining for a time from the satisfaction of human needs, especially the needs for food and drink, as an expression of interior penance. This spiritual practice is a means of decreasing our selfishness while increasing our dependence upon God’s fatherly provision.
The only days on which Catholic adults (until the age of 60) are required to fast are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals, which, if added together, would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Snacks and meat are also prohibited on those days.
In fact, penance is an integral part of the Christian life. Fasting is a traditional, Biblically-based practice strongly encouraged by the Church (see Catechism, no. 1434). Further, all Catholics fast for at least one hour before receiving Our Lord, the “Bread of Life,” in Holy Communion.
Catholics in the United States are required to abstain from eating meat not only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but also on all other Fridays during Lent. This explains all the Lenten “Soup and Stations Nights,” fish fries, and cheese enchilada sales!
May these and other Lenten observances of our own choosing bring home to us the Gospel truth that we do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4).
Discuss fasting, the daily readings, and more in the Verbum Faithlife group!
I’ve attended some fish fries that were anything but penitential. In fact, some go on right up to the time of the Stations and only a handful attend this service. Should dessert be part of the menu along with all you can eat and 15 items on the buffet?
Thank you for your blog post!
Our Eastern brothers and sisters (who also are Catholics) have different rules and do not celebrate Ash Wednesday. I am Roman Catholic but I’m abstaining this Lent as they do. Ash Wednesday was a much easier fast this year. Past years I would go grouchy or even forget to fast. They have Vespers each night as a congregation and a meal without meat, fish, and dairy afterward (much like we do in our Lenten soup suppers). I am thankful that our Church has two lungs. I am learning so much about God from each of them!
God bless you!