The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way (Cannon 1249)
Fasting and Abstinence are two ways of doing penance. There are other ways too. Fasting means not eating food for some length of time. Abstinence means not doing a particular thing or not eating a particular food. If you want to know why I think that Abstinence and Fasting are a good idea, go here.
All Fridays of the year, and the whole seasson of Lent are stablished as penitential days for all Catholics.
Who is bind to fasting or abstinence
- The law of abstinence bind people who are 14 or older
- The law of fasting bind people who are between 18 (majority age in the Church) and 59 years old.
(C 1252, 97)
- Even if you may not bind to fasting or abstinence you are still bind to do penance in some form.
- You may be excused of abstinence and fasting if you are sick.
- The diocesan bishop can dispense of this law, and for individual cases so can the pastor or the religious superior.
Days of fasting and abstinence.
- Ash Wednesday
- Good Friday
- Is up to the Episcopal Conferences to set obligations or not of abstinence on the rest of Fridays that are not Solemnities.
England and Wales
Abstinence every Friday of the year.
The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this [penance] should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011[...]
Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.
Spring 2011 plenary resolutions.
United States of America
Abstinence of meat on Fridays of Lent. Other Fridays this may be substituted by works of penance.
See here for details
Abstinence of meat on Fridays of Lent. Other Fridays this may be substituted for certain works of penance.
Abstaining from meat, but what meat means here? And fasting, how much?
Either explicitly or implicitly these Episcopal Conferences are following the Apostiolic Constitution Paenitemini, Paul VI, 1966
1. The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.
2 The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom.
Fast not related to penance.
One hour before communion.
"One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion" (CIC 919 §1). Elderly people, those who are ill, and their caretakers are excused from the Eucharistic fast (CIC 191 §3). Priests and deacons may not dispense one obligated by the Eucharistic fast unless the bishop has expressly granted such power to them (cf. CIC 89).