Explaining the Laws of fast and abstinence, for days of fast and abstinence
On days of fast, only one full meal is allowed, at which meat may be taken. Two other meatless meals, which together are less than the full meal, are also permitted. Only liquids may be taken between meals. The law of fast must be observed by all between the ages of 21 and 59 inclusive.
If fasting poses a serious risk to health or impedes the ability to do necessary work, it does not oblige.
There are also certain days of abstinence.
On days of complete abstinence, meat (and soup or gravy made from meat) may not be taken at all.
On days of partial abstinence, meat (and soup or gravy made from meat) can be eaten only once. The law of abstinence must be observed by everyone age 7 and older.
There is no obligation of fast or abstinence on a holy day of obligation, even if it falls on a Friday.
(USA, adopted 1951, modified 1956)
1. Priests and faithful before Mass or Holy Communion – whether it is the morning, afternoon, evening, or Midnight Mass – must abstain for three hours from solid foods and alcoholic beverages, and for one hour from non-alcoholic beverages. Water does not break the fast.
2. The infirm, even if not bedridden, may take non-alcoholic beverages and that which is really and properly medicine, either in liquid or solid form, before Mass or Holy Communion without any time limit.
Priests and faithful who are able to do so are exhorted to observe the old and venerable form of the Eucharistic fast (from foods and liquids from midnight). All those who will make use of these concessions must compensate for the good received by becoming shining examples of a Christian life and principally with works of penance and charity.
(Pope Pius XII, Sacram Communionem, 1957)
(St. N.) Commemoration
Holy Days of Obligation (USA)
1. The Circumcision (Jan. 1)
2. Ascension Thursday
3. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15)
4. All Saints’ Day (November 1)
5. The Immaculate Conception (December 8)
6. Christmas (December 25)