As another Lenten journey of conversion begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and ends with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, March 29, Holy Mother Church calls all Catholics to a deeper spirit of penance, fasting, almsgiving, prayer and worship, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1434 & 1969).
In order to foster a greater spirit of penance, of reparation for sin, to encourage self-denial, Catholics are reminded of the following obligations of fast and abstinence that are part the proper observance of Lent.
1.) Abstinence: All persons who have already celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.
2.) Fasting: Everyone, from the celebration of their 18th birthday to their 59th birthday, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is generally understood to mean eating only one full meal each day. Two other partial meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Other forms of fasting, as regards alcoholic drink, needless television, videogames, Internet use and social entertainment, are of true spiritual value and strongly encouraged.
3.) Almsgiving: All Catholics are encouraged to support the charitable works of the whole Church through giving to their parish and support of other charities.
4.) Prayer: In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged to participate in the sacramental life of the Church during Lent by attending daily Mass and frequent the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.