Fasting and Abstinence

Traditionally, on days of Fasting and Abstinence (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) it has been the practice to:

  • Take no more than one full meal, which may not be eaten before noon and which must not take more than three hours to eat.
  • Take one or two light collations (snacks) in order to prevent oneself from being made seriously ill, particularly if working.
  • Abstain from the eating of flesh meat.

The rules of fasting and abstinence have traditionally applied to those over 14 years for abstinence, and those between the ages of 18 and 60 for fasting.

It is quite unreasonable to expect anyone with a serious medical condition to fast, particularly if doing so will make them ill. The idea of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday is to remind ourselves of the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness during which time we are told his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey; and on Good Friday when we commemorate Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross. The idea is not for anybody to make themselves ill; therefore those who have a serious medical condition that could be made worse by fasting therefore have a dispensation from having to fast on these days.

And what of vegetarians and vegans, who do not eat meat anyway? They are encouraged to abstain from something else on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

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