Fasting and Abstinence

Throughout the year, the Church is called to fast and abstain in order to do penance and grow closer to Christ.

The Church is expected to:

  • FAST on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

  • ABSTAIN on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays in the year (cf. canons 1251-1252, Code of Canon Law).

These are serious obligations for every Catholic.


The law of fasting requires Catholics 18 to 59 years of age to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church understands this as:

  • one ordinary meal

  • two light meals, which if added together, do not exceed the main meal in quantity. 

  • the fast is broken by eating between meals and by consuming drinks which could be considered food.


The law of abstinence requires all Catholics 14 years of age and over to abstain from eating meat. 


Besides those outside of of the age limits, the sick are excused from these obligations. Fasting and abstinence should never jeopardize one's physical health.

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