Friday, March 7, 2014

Fasting During Lent

Hello, there!

It has been quite some time since I posted to this blog and if figured it was high time I did.

I have covered Lent and fasting in two previous posts:

Breaking You Lenten Fast on Sundays

Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Non-Fasting Friday of Lent

They covered mostly days you are not required to fast or observe abstinence.  This post will cover what you can or cannot eat during lent.

First there is a difference between abstinence and fasting, both of which you are required to observe.

Abstinence is simply doing without something. The only thing Catholics are required to abstain from is meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent. That means no eating beef, pork, chicken and basically meat from any mammal pr fowl. Seafood such as fish, crab, lobster...ect are permitted.

I often get asked why fish/seafood is allowed. From what I have read the reason is more a long standing tradition than anything else. When abstinence during lent started, many people lived near the sea or body of water and seafood was readily available and relatively cheap. Meat from a cow or pig and fowl was much less abundant and much more expensive. So, the thought was that eating seafood was a less extravagant meal than eating something like a steak. By abstaining you were denying yourself what was considered an extravagant meal during that time.

The intent behind abstinence should be kept in mind. It is my opinion that going out and having an expensive, extravagant meal with or without meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday or any Friday during Lent is outside the intent of abstinence. So, when planning meals during days of abstinence,keep in mind the meal should be relatively humble regardless of the content of the meal. Remember, the idea of abstinence is to deny yourself something meaningful or noticeable.

Many people also abstain from other things during Lent as an added dedication but it is not a requirement by the church. It has been a long standing tradition to give up a vice or something else that distract you from the Lord and the Gospels but it isn't a requirement.

Fasting in the purpose of Lent is a simple reduction of meal sizes. Catholics are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday which means that you get only one full sized meal that day and two meals not equalling a full meal. The idea is to have one main meal and two meals smaller than your typical meals. So, it is not a complete fast from food the entire day, just a reduction in meal sizes.

If you typically have a bowl of cereal and a banana for breakfast, maybe you just have the cereal or just the banana. If you normally have a sandwich, orange and yogurt for lunch maybe you drop the fruit and yogurt...ect.



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