All Fridays and Lent are days of penance. Acts of penance are an important part of a genuine Christian life through which Jesus continues to encourage us to better our ways. Through the examination of our conscience and penance we should be able to improve our daily life and by doing so increase our love to God and our neighbors.
We can do penance in many different ways. We can abstain from eating meat or other type of food or drink (coffee, beer, wine, alcohol). We can abstain from other pleasures such as television or we can fast from food for part of or a complete day. To these acts of penance one should add good works and religious exercises. At the same time one should make an extra effort to fulfill one’s daily duties.
From the age of 14 years all Catholics are duty bound to exercise some form of abstinence on all Fridays unless the day falls on a special holiday (e.g. Christmas). The eating of meat is forbidden for all Catholics on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All Catholics between the ages of 18 and 60 years are duty bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
To fast means one can take, at the most, one full but simple meal and the other meals, if necessary, should be at a minimum.