The penitential season of Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13), and continues through Holy Thursday (March 28). Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, is March 31 in the Latin rite this year. The following Lenten regulations are from the Office of Liturgy for the Denver Archdiocese.
Abstinence from meats is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent.
Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.
The special paschal fast and abstinence are prescribed for Good Friday and encouraged for Holy Saturday.
By the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the Church keeps Lent from Ash Wednesday until the evening of Holy Thursday. All of the faithful and the catechumens should undertake the serious practice of these three traditions. Failure to observe penitential days totally or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.
The U.S. bishops issued a statement on penitential observance: “On Weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and self-imposed observances of fasting. In light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to practice penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part of our abundance.”