Is it a sin to eat meat on Fridays of Lent?

There are the two main ways that Catholics use to focus on growing closer to God during the Lenten season: Fasting and Abstinence. Why? Lent is the time before which the faithful remembers the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary. It is a 40-day time of preparation before Easter, the memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Let us look at the meaning of fasting and abstinence during Lent. Fasting is a form of penance and spiritual discipline.

What is Abstinence?

Abstinence is the act of “doing without” or avoiding something. For example, someone may abstain from chocolate or alcohol by not consuming them. Particular days of abstinence during Lent are Fridays, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. As canon law states, Catholics over the age of 14 are expected to abstain from the eating of meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout the Lenten Season

See Canon 1250 -1253

Days of Penance

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Code of Canon – Sacred Times

Rooted in Scripture.

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes”

Daniel. 9:3

“Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness”

Tobit. 12:8

“When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.”

Psalm. 69:10

Is it a sin to break the practice?

According to JD Flynn, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic News Agency, “Prayer should be the central focus of our Lent. Without prayer, Lent will be a kind of endurance test for us. A test of how strong we are, or how much willpower we have. But Lent isn’t really about that. Lent is about how much we can turn to God the Father, through Jesus, and hand over our lives to him. That should be the center of our Lenten discipline.”

“To completely disobey the Church’s request in fasting and abstinence during Lent, who are bound by that, that is a serious sin. But the sin is disobedience. Jesus said, “Those who hear you, hears Me ‘ so for those who are Catholic but completely ignore the Church, the Bride of Christ, on these things, that is a serious sin” – Msgr. Stuart Swetland

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