Modern-Day Fasting: Understanding the Minimal Obligations in the Latin Rite, Explained by Canon Law Expert in Vatican City

Modern-Day Fasting: Understanding the Minimal Obligations in the Latin Rite, Explained by Canon Law Expert in Vatican City

Fasting is not just about abstaining from food; it is a practice that prepares us for prayer, as Monsignor Pope highlighted. When we fast, we experience a greater hunger or thirst, reminding us of our frailty and helping us be more humble. This humility is essential for unlocking the depth of prayer and our experience of God.

Link to Virtue and Clarity of Mind

St. Thomas Aquinas links fasting to virtues like chastity, purity, and clarity of mind, emphasizing its importance within the tradition.

This connection suggests that our struggles with chastity and theological knowledge may be linked to a decline in fasting practices.

A Brief History of Fasting

Fasting obligations in the Catholic Church were stricter in previous centuries.

Catholics abstained from meat on all Fridays, except Easter Friday, and fasted during Lent, having one main meal and two smaller meatless meals each day, excluding Sundays.

They also abstained from meat on Fridays and Saturdays in Lent.

Why Are Today’s Obligations Minimal?

The current minimal fasting obligations in the Latin rite are set by the Church to establish clear boundaries for practicing the Christian life.

Intentionally violating these obligations is considered a mortal sin.

However, Catholics are encouraged to go beyond the minimum and perform additional acts of penance out of love for God and neighbor.

Fasting Must Be Stirred by Charity

Fasting should not be motivated by dieting or pride but by love for God.

It is important not to compare one’s fasting practices with others but to focus on God during Lent.

Failure in fasting can lead to a realization of our dependence on God’s grace and mercy, helping us grow in virtue.

The Joy of Fasting

Despite the sacrifices involved, fasting during Lent should be approached with joy.

It is a season of deepening our relationship with Christ and growing closer to Him.

Lent leads us to the cross and ultimately to the resurrection, reminding us of Christ’s sacrifice and the joy of His resurrection.


Fasting during Lent is a spiritual practice that goes beyond following rules. It is about loving God with our hearts and seeking to grow in virtue.

By fasting with the right motivation and embracing the joy of Lent, we can deepen our relationship with Christ and draw closer to Him.

TDPel Media

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