FASTING AND ABSTINENCE: A SIMPLE GUIDE.

FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
A simple guide

A) Fasting
Fasting is understood as having ONE NORMAL MEAL during the day. Depending on the customs of each country, it is allowed to take a very light breakfast and a very light dinner if the principal meal is lunchtime; or a very light lunch if the principal heavy meal is done at night. During the rest of the day, one must not eat, taking into account that water and medication do not break the fast.

The Code of Canon Law, nn. 1251-1253 state that:

  • Canon 1251 “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (“nisi”) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “
  • Canon 1252 “All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance. “
  • Can. 1253 “It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.”

B) Dispensation from fasting and abstinence

  • Those who have the dispensation from the proper legitimate Church authority ARE NOT OBLIGED to fulfill the Church law on fasting and abstinence.
    • Moreover, all those who, due to physical or moral motives, encounter important difficulties e.g., the sick or those recovering from illness, persons suffering from poverty or malnutrition and those who have to carry out tough manual labor…are also not obliged to fulfill this norm on fasting and abstinence.
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