Health Implications of Lenten Fasting for Catholics

Roman Catholics have very limited requirements for fasting during Lent. This writer is a lifelong Catholic and has worked for the Catholic Church for 18 years. While this may not be the qualifications of an expert they are certainly those of someone well versed in Catholic tradition and doctrine.

There are only two days during the Lenten season when fasting is required, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The only days when meat cannot be consumed are Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays of Lent. Lent ends on Holy Thursday thus Good Friday is technically beyond the Lenten season.

Now as to the health implications, it is hard to imagine that there are any. What fasting means in the Catholic Church is that you may only consume one full meal during the day, the other two meals together should not equal the first meal and there is no eating allowed between meals.

Catholics aged 18-59 should follow this rule if they are in good health and if it would not affect their ability to perform their jobs. If anyone is not well, they are not held to this obligation. So therefore there can not be any health implications unless they are self inflicted against the direct advise of the Catholic Church.

The rule of abstinence applies to those 14 years of age and over and again if there is a serious illness involved, they are not held to this obligation.

When anyone whether they are Catholic or not chooses to fast in a way that would jeopardize their health, they are not doing so at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. Many people use Lent as an excuse to go on a very strict diet, more with the idea of losing weight than with any thoughts of a religious nature.

Lent should be a time of reflection on the lives that you are leading. If you choose to deny yourselves a favorite treat whether it be food or a TV show, it should be done with the idea that the sacrifice will make you a better person not a thinner or sickly person. Lent is more about doing than giving up. Add some prayer time to your life, volunteer your time, visit the sick, these are things that make for a good Lenten season.

According to the Catholic Voice, a publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland Ca. “Catholics are also encouraged to do penance in other ways, such as prayer, acts of self-denial, alms giving, and through works of kindness and compassion”.

So what are the health implications of Lenten fasting for Catholics? There aren’t any.

Photo credit: Pixabay  lent_1424020907.png

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  1. Kim Dalessandro
      • Kim Dalessandro

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