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As a follow-up to the significant research I have done regarding Traditional (Roman and Eastern) Catholic fasting and abstinence, I have put together a 2024 fasting and abstinence calendar for my devotional purposes. This is a follow-up to a similar one I did in 2022 and 2023.
Traditional Catholic Fasting Rules:
Abstinence: Abstinence in this context refers to not eating meat. Meat refers to the fleshmeat of mammals or fowl. Beef, poultry, lamb, etc are all forbidden on days of abstinence. Abstinence does not currently prohibit animal byproducts like dairy (e.g. cheese, butter, milk) or eggs, but in times past they were prohibited. Fish is permitted along with shellfish and other cold-blooded animals like alligators. In times past, days of fast were always days of abstinence as well; however, not all days of abstinence were days of mandatory fasting.
Fasting, therefore, refers to the quantity of food and the frequency of eating. Abstinence refers to what may or may not be eaten.
1. Partial Abstinence is a modern invention and is not part of this calendar. Abstinence is always full, never partial.
2. All Days of Lent, aside from Sundays, are days of fasting and abstinence. Sundays are days only of abstinence.
3. For Lent only, abstinence refers to all animal products (e.g., dairy, butter, eggs) in addition to meat. This includes Sundays.
5. This calendar keeps the 1954 Roman Catholic Calendar and the pre-1917 practice of anticipating Vigils on Saturday that fall on Sunday in a given year.
7. Dominican Specific Fasting Days: April 29, August 3, and October 6 are not on the calendar but will be observed by Dominican Tertiary per the 1923 Rule (the last one before Vatican II). Same with all Fridays of the year, which Dominicans are asked to keep as days of fasting.
8. Days of fasting generally include all of the Major Fasts as noted above, in addition to the following days when they fall outside those periods: Ember Days, Vigils of the Apostles, and Vigils for Major Feasts. Rogation Days were often days of abstinence but not fast.
9. Saturday Abstinence used to be obligatory year-round with some exceptions for days « as often as no major solemnity (e.g., Christmas) occurs on Saturday, or no infirmity serves to cancel the obligation.” One exception granted in some places was for all Saturdays of the Christmas Season to be exempted.
10. Above all, this calendar goes far beyond the mere « minimums, » which are virtually non-existent, and attempts to present concrete ways for Catholics to actually fast in the manner our forefathers did.
Not listed but certainly recommendable based on the Early Church’s practice of Wednesday penance (and based on the wishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), would be to also observe abstinence year-round on Wednesdays (beyond the dates noted on the calendar). Such a practice would be commendable on all additional Wednesdays of the year with exceptions whenever either a Holy Day of Obligation, Former Holy Day of Obligation, or First Class Feast falls on Wednesday.
Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
To order a digital .ics file of the above calendar that can be easily imported into your calendar application (e.g., Outlook, Google, Apple, etc), order below. The file is only $4.95. I will email you the relevant .ics file within 24 hours of your order. The file will have relevant details and links with more information to help you live out the recommended traditional Catholic fasts.
Note that the file is a free benefit to all my Patreon members. So, if you become a patron, you will get that and many other benefits.