As a sign of reverence for the Holy Eucharist, we take nothing by mouth except medicine or water for one hour before receiving. (We do not chew gum except for medical reasons, like using Aspergum.)
From age 14 until death, we abstain from meat & all foods made with meat (soup, gravy, etc.) on Ash Wednesday, the six Fridays during Lent, and Good Friday. The Church strongly encourages us to abstain from meat or to do some other act of penance on ALL Fridays throughout the year. (This year our bishops have again asked us to pray the Rosary daily and fast & abstain every Friday as a sacrifice for respect for life and true marriage and the defense of religious liberty.
From age 18, we fast on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday (eating only one full meal and 2 smaller servings which together do not equal a full meal). This obligation ends on our 60th birthday, but the Church encourages those of us who are able to continue this penitential practice in honor of our Lord’s Passion. Though not obligatory, fasting from Holy Thursday evening until Easter Sunday is an ancient custom revered by the Church and encouraged for all of us. (Some folks follow an ancient monastic tradition of fasting on Wed. or Fri. every week throughout the year.)
We are not bound by the law if we have a just reason. For example, a diabetic might be unable to follow the rigors of even a limited liturgical fast. Or you might go to dinner on a Friday in Lent where the host has prepared a ham. (You could eat the meal, then abstain or make some other sacrifice on another day.)
Lent ends the evening of Wednesday in Holy Week (April 16 this year), followed by the Sacred Triduum, the Church’s 3-day observance of the Last Supper, Our Lord’s Passion and Death, and His glorious Resurrection.
One sacrifice you might consider is participating in the Knights of Columbus’ program, 40 Cans for Lent. You are urged to set aside one can of food each day, which you can bring to church on Sunday for the needy in our community. Many of you already donate an awful lot of food for the Ecumenical Food Pantry, and we appreciate your generosity!