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2017 Lenten Regulations
The holy season of Lent provides us a special time of grace and spiritual renewal so that we may become better instruments in sharing the Gospel Message. This year Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, falls on March 1st.
The present laws of the church regarding fast and abstinence during the season of Lent are below. The obligation to observe is a serious obligation. The Code of Canon Law states on these days of penance:
“… the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence…”
DAYS OF FAST
Ash Wednesday (March 1) and Good Friday (April 14) are days of fast. On days of fast, one full meal is allowed. Two lesser meals sufficient to maintain strength may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted. Catholics who have completed their 18th year are bound by this law until the beginning of their 60th year.
DAYS OF ABSTINENCE
Ash Wednesday and all Fridays in Lent are also days of abstinence. On days of abstinence, meats should not be taken at any meal. The law of abstinence binds all Catholics who have completed their 14th year and onward. (Please note: a typographical error in the most recent FAITH Magazine note this obligation applied to Catholics aged 14-59 which is incorrect. The law of abstinence applies to all Catholics aged 14 years old and up. Unlike the rule for fasting, It does not end when someone reaches age 60.)
The Fridays of the year, outside of Lent, are designated as days of penance, but each individual may substitute for the traditional abstinence from meat some other practice of voluntary self-denial as penance.
In addition to the age limits noted above, those who are physically or mentally ill, including individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses such are diabetes may be excused from fasting and abstinence Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.
FEAST OF ST. PATRICK
In addition, Bishop Steven J. Raica has issued a dispensation from abstinence on Friday, March 17, 2017, to all Catholics within the Diocese of Gaylord on that day to commemorate the memorial of St. Patrick within the Irish tradition. Those who choose to utilize the dispensation are to perform another suitable penance on the day before of the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
THE PASCHAL PRECEPT (“Easter Duty”)
All the faithful, after they have been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, are bound by the obligation of receiving Communion at least once a year. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year. The time for fulfilling the Paschal Precept (Easter Duty) this year extends from the First Sunday of Lent, March 5, 2017 to The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 11, 2017.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Use this link to go to the U.S. Catholic Bishops' website pages for Lent.