Fasting Isn’t Just for Lent

During Lent, Catholics abstain and fast at certain times. But the Catholic Church views every Friday (except solemnities) as a penitential day, which means we should abstain from meat or something else we desire every Friday of the year, and not just during Lent. If you’re confused about the difference between abstaining and fasting, just remember:

  • Abstaining = not eating a particular food
  • Fasting = not eating any food

Canon 1250 states, “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.”

The Church prescribes this for three reasons:

  1. We find solidarity with Christ.
  2. We are moved toward virtue by reordering the passions.
  3. Our prayers are deepened.

Do you fast during Ordinary Time? Comment below!

For a great video on the benefits of fasting, check out “Why Should Christians Fast?” by The CFRs and Jackie Mulligan of Reform Wellness.

Meet Your Host, Colin MacIver:

Colin MacIver, host of the Tightrope podcast, with his family

Colin is an enthusiastic transplant to vibrant Louisiana, where he lives with his beautiful wife Aimee and two energetic children, Leo and Zélie. His juggling act involves being a husband, a dad, a teacher, a youth minister, a musician and a national Ascension content creator and trainer.

In his spare time, he eats too many crawfish, savors king cake, plays one-on-one kickball with his son, and tries, for the life of him, to properly load the dishwasher.

Check out Colin’s latest work with Ascension:  Power and Grace: A Guide to the Catholic Sacraments and Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike.


  1. I have abstained from meat for many years now. During my childhood, Catholics gave up meat every Friday, but that was changed. I don’t find it difficult because I think of the excruciating suffering Jesus endured for our salvation.

  2. Yes…I started abstaining from meat on Fridays, then added Wednesdays. It has deepened my prayer life.

  3. I’ve been abstaining from meat for at least 8 years on Fridays. I enjoy the weekly discipline.

  4. Fasting in the Catholic sense is not “not eating any food,” but eating much less than normal, comprising 1 normal meal, and 2 smaller snacks not equaling another normal meal. No dessert, no between meal eating.

    • Theresa, what you describe are the Church’s permissive guidelines for fasting. In other words, it is the bear minimum one must do in order for it to be considered fasting. In the tradition of the Church dating back to Christ, fasting has always meant not eating any food. This is what the ascetics and the desert fathers understood, and this is what the Gospels mean. When Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days, he didn’t eat one full meal and two small meals not equal to a full meal each day. He simply ate nothing.


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