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:
- We find solidarity with Christ.
- We are moved toward virtue by reordering the passions.
- 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.
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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.
I’ve been abstaining from meat for at least 8 years on Fridays. I enjoy the weekly discipline.
Yes…I started abstaining from meat on Fridays, then added Wednesdays. It has deepened my prayer life.
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.