Our observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6 this year, and is a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics. On Ash Wednesday, the imposition of ashes replicates an ancient penitential practice and symbolizes our dependence upon God’s mercy and forgiveness. The purpose of Lent is to renew, refresh and strengthen us in our journey with Christ as we move towards heaven. If we are the same people at Easter as we are on Ash Wednesday, we have missed a beautiful opportunity of grace.
Fasting binds all persons who have completed their 18th birthday through those who have completed their 59th years, unless prevented by poor health. On days of fast, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s own needs. Eating between meals is not allowed although fluids may be taken.
Abstinence binds all persons how have complete their 14th birthday, unless prevented by poor health. On days of abstinence during Lent, the consumption of meat of mammals or fowl is not allowed. The Church strongly encourages the observance of Friday abstinence throughout the year, but a failure to do so is not regarded as sinful.
Lent is a penitential season and as such religious practice such as daily Mass, reception of the Sacrament of Penance, the devotion of Stations of the Cross, works of charity and justice, and acts of self-denial are highly encouraged.