The Church Laws of Fast and Abstinence
The uniform norms for fast and abstinence adopted in 1951 by the Bishops of the United States were somewhat modified at their November 1956 meeting. The regulations on this matter now read as follows:
Rules of Abstinence
- Everyone over seven years is bound to observe the law of abstinence. On a day of complete abstinence no meat, meat gravy or soup made from meat may be taken. On a day of partial abstinence meat may be taken only once a day at the principal meal.
- Complete abstinence is to be observed on Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, and the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas. On a day of complete abstinence no meat, meat gravy or soup made from meat may be taken.
- Partial Abstinence is to be observed on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays and on the Vigil of Pentecost. On a day of partial abstinence meat may be taken only once a day at the principal meal.
Rules of Fast
- Everyone over 21 and under 59 years of age is also bound to observe the laws of fast.
- The days of fast are the weekdays of Lent including Holy Saturday, the Ember Days, the Vigils of Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas.
- On days of fast, only one full meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs; but together they should not equal another full meal.
- Meat may be taken at the principal meal on a day of fast except on Fridays, Ash Wenesday, Holy Saturday, and the Vigils of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas.
- Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed.
- Where health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. In doubt concerning fast or abstinence, a parish priest or confessor should be consulted.
- There is no obligation for fast or abstinence on a holy day of obligation, even if it falls on a Friday.