Abstinence—All who have reached their 14th birthday are to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during Lent.
Fasting—All those who are 18 and older, until their 59th birthday, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Only one full meal is allowed on days of fast. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs. But together, they should not equal a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. The obligation does not apply to those whose health or ability to work would be seriously affected. People in doubt about fast or abstinence should consult a parish priest. If you are exempt from the fasting rules, it is a good idea to substitute another penance.
Reconciliation- Lent is a great time to go to confession and turn away from sin especially any mortal sins you’ve committed. To get started with that learn to go to confession and learn the conditions for a mortal sin.
Penance -During Lent the Christian faithful are to do penance through prayer, fasting, abstinence and by exercising works of piety and charity. All Fridays through the year, and especially during Lent, are penitential days.
Many Catholics were taught as children to “give up something” for Lent. The sacrifices in Lent are really penance, in the same spirit as the Ninehvites that repented at the preaching of Jonah. Throughout our history, Christians have found prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to be an important part of repentance and renewal. Many Catholics now add something during Lent rather than giving up something, either to address personal habits that need work or to add some outreach to others in need.
The Church does not specifically require that we do something beyond the requirements of fasting and abstinence. To do nothing, however, would certainly not be in keeping with the spirit of Lent. Furthermore, the sacrifices and extra things we do for Lent help us grow closer to Christ. We are missing out on so many graces if we do not participate fully in Lent. It is not necessary to be perfect, but we should put forth a good effort.
A good practice is to do something extra in prayer, something involving fasting (whether limiting our intake of food or giving up something non food-related), and something involving almsgiving (giving money or goods to the needy or doing extra acts of charity).
Our Catholic community in the United States does something amazing each Lent. We come together to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving— and by doing so we help lift families and communities out of poverty and put them on a path toward resilience, prosperity and stability.
That’s the CRS Rice Bowl effect.
- Clean drinking water for vulnerable communities
- Seeds and training to help farmers improve harvests
- Health exams and treatment for children
Through this tradition, we have helped families around the world and in our own backyard by raising our voices and our prayers, and by making sacrificial gifts. Rice Bowls are be available for all parishioners to take home. They will be returned after Easter.
Please visit www.crs.org for more information or to donate online.