Thursday, February 26, 2009

On fasting and abstinence

A good reminder on fasting and abstinence, published last year in cbcpnews.
Related posts here and here.

Canon lawyer says fast, abstinence on Good Friday is mandatory

DAVAO CITY, March 19, 2008—While other forms of penance are left to the personal choice of the individual, fasting and abstinence is mandatory.

Archdiocese of Davao Oeconomus Fr. Junar de la Victoria said that in the Catholic Church, Catholics are joined together in a certain common practice of penance not simply as a conglomerate of individuals but as a unified body in Christ.

De la Victoria, a Canon lawyer said the practice of abstinence from meat is devoted to repentance and it is mandatory on all Fridays throughout the year except on all solemnities.

A solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church is a principal holy day in the liturgical calendar usually commemorating an event in the life of Jesus, His mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, or other important saints. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast.

In the Philippines , he said, fast and abstinence may be substituted with exercises of piety such as reading the Bible, going to Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Holy Rosary or with acts of charity, such as visiting the sick and prisoners, giving alms to the poor or teaching catechism.

However, the canon lawyer emphasized that all these forms of substitution is not permitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) norms.

De la Victoria said the law of abstinence binds those who have reached a sufficient use of reason, and who have completed their 14th year of age.

Meanwhile, De La Victoria said that fasting is a physical process of restricting one’s level of use of such things as food, drink, play and others.

During the season of Lent, he said, fasting is primarily in preparation for the Easter feast, and secondarily, where a reconciliation process is observed, a penitential act.

He also explained that the law on fast means that only one full meal may be taken during the day; two light meals are permitted in accord with local custom as to the amount and kind of food.

“The consumption of solid food between meals is prohibited but liquids may be taken at any time,” de la Victoria added.

The law of fasting binds those who have completed their 18th year of age until the beginning of their 60th year.

“Fasting is also to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday but Vatican II also recommends fasting on Holy Saturday or Black Saturday,” added de la Victoria.

The canon lawyer also said that the law of fast and abstinence do not bind the seafarers.

It was also learned that there are official days of penance wherein Catholics are called to prayer; to engage in works of piety and charity; to deny their selves in twofold ways: 1. by fulfilling the obligations in their state of lives more faithfully and 2. by observing the prescribed fast and abstinence.

De la Victoria also is also a columnist of Davao Catholic Herald, the archdiocesan community paper.

(Mark S Ventura)


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