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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church

Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church

What Are the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church?

The rules for fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church are set forth in the Code of Canon Law. To a limited extent, they can be modified by the conference of bishops for each particular country.

The Code of Canon Law prescribes (Canons 1250-1252):

Can. 1250: The penitential days and times in the Universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251: Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252: The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

In the Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that the faithful are to follow the rules on fasting and abstinence as being set forth in the Code of Canon Law (refer: Catholic Directory of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei 2010)

The Bishop's Conference can lay down more particular norms regarding the practice of fasting and penance. It may also substitute, either in whole or in part, other forms of penance, above all works of charity and devotional exercises, in place of abstinence or fasting.

Bishop's Office
Diocese of Sandakan.

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