In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds his disciples to “not look gloomy like the hypocrites,” when they fast. Read this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, and reflect on how you fast during the season of Lent:

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days  of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards. Get more information from the USCCB here.

Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.


The section on fasting and abstinence was originally published on Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. All rights reserved.