Holy Season of Lent Begins
Ash Wednesday kicks off our annual observance of the holy season of Lent.
Privileged forms of penance are recommended in Lent because they are based on the teachings of the Gospel (fasting, almsgiving, prayer, works of mercy), or because of their traditional value among the people of God (abstinence from meat). Ash Wednesday is a day of both fasting and of abstinence from meat.
The law of “fasting” prescribes that only one full meal a day is taken. Two lighter meals are permitted to maintain strength according to one’s needs. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed. Fasting applies to those 18 to 59 years of age. Christian fasting is intended to open our hearts to God and others, a means of purification and spiritual liberation, a witness of the depths of our faith. p
The law of “abstinence from meat” applies to those who are 14 and older. It forbids the eating of meat, but eggs, milk products, and condiments made from meat may be eaten. Fish and all cold-blooded animals may be eaten (e.g. frogs, turtles, clams, etc.).
Parents and educators are reminded of their duty to introduce children gradually to the understanding and practice of penance. Adult example will be the greatest influence in this matter.