To help Catholics observe the Lenten call to repentance, the Church has established these Lenten Regulations:
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.
- The obligation of abstinence (refraining from eating meat) begins at the age of 14. The law of fasting (limiting oneself to one full meal and two light meals) obliges all between the ages of 18 and 59. No one should consider this obligation lightly.
- Those individuals who have a medical condition in which fasting may be considered harmful are not obligated to fast, but should perform some other act of penance or charity.
- Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.
- All members of the Christian Faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity during the Lenten season beyond what is prescribed by the law.
- As a general rule, a request for dispensation from the obligation of abstinence on Fridays of Lent will not be considered.
The “Easter Duty” asks all Catholics who have received their first Holy Communion to receive Communion at least once between the first Sunday of Lent (February 17, 2002) and Trinity Sunday (May 26, 2002). Another Church norm requires all Catholics who have reached the use of reason to confess any grave sins at least once a year.