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Lenten Penance, Fast, and Abstinence

Lenten Penance, Fast, and Abstinence



In his "Apostolic Constitution on Penance," Pope Paul VI reorganized Church law concerning fast and abstinence. He reminded us of the divine law that each of us in our own way do penance. We must all turn from sin and make reparation to God for our sins. We must forgive and show love for one another just as we ask for God's love and forgiveness.

The Code of Canon Law and our bishops remind us of other works and means of doing penance: prayer, acts of self-denial, almsgiving, and works of personal charity.

Attending Mass daily or several times a week, reflecting on scripture five minutes a day, praying the rosary, making the way of the cross, attending the parish Lenten programs, teaching the illiterate to read, reading to the blind, helping at a soup kitchen, visiting the sick and shut-ins, being a Good Samaritan all of these are just some appropriate Lenten practices that can deepen our relationship with God and neighbor.

When do we fast?


Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On days of fast, we eat only one full meal with no food between meals. If one eats three meals a day the two other meals should not equal one full meal. Fasting cleanses our bodies and prepares us for deeper communion with God.


When do we abstain?


Catholics in the United States abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of lent. All Catholics who have completed their fourteenth year of age and older are bound by the law of abstinence as an act of Lenten penance and sacrifice



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