Penance Cartoon

Penance & Lent

Pastoral Notes from the ORDO published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Fridays are days of abstinence from meat, but Cathoics may substitute special acts of charity or piety on this day.

Lent has a penitental character.  During Lent, penance is an important requirement of Christian life.  Fulfillment of this duty involves prayer, works of piety and charity, and self-denial by fulfilling one's obligations more fiathfully and especially by observing prescribed fast and abstinence.

Ash Wednesday & Good Friday in the Roman Rite, including Canada, are days of fasting and of abstinence from meat.  Pastors should invite and encourage their people to do speical penance on these two days,

The Paschal Fast is observed on Good Friday ane, where possible, continued through Holy Saturday.

Privileged forms of Penance are recommended, especially during Lent.  These forms are privileged because they are based on the teaching of he Gospels (fasting, almsgiving, prayer, works of mercy) or because of the traditional value among the people of God (abstinence  from meat).

Christian fasting obtains its full meaning when we deprive ourselves of food in order to be more open to pryaer, to share more in the suffering of those who are starving and to save money to give to the poor.  Fasting is a penitential discipline intended to open our hearts to God and to others, a means of purification and spiritual liberation, a witness of the depth of our faith.

The law of "abstinence from meat" binds those who are 14 and older; the law of "fasting" binds those from 18 to 59 years of age.  Parents and educators are reminded of their duty to introduce children gradually to the understanding and practice of penance.  The actions modeled by adults will be the greatest influence in this matter.


*Fasting is defined as one regular meal and then two smaller intakes of food.