What is Fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that takes the form of refraining from eating in order to tame the body so that the faithful can concentrate on higher things. It is a part of repentance, of turning away from sin and returning back to God.
When is it obligatory?
A faithful can always observe fasting at anytime of the year as a form of penance but it is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Who can fast?
The law requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one Meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity.
When is fast broken?
The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem contrary to the spirit of doing penance.
Who are exempted from fasting?
1. Persons who are below 18 y/o and those who are 60 and above.
2. Those of unsound mind
3. The sick
4. The frail
5. The pregnant
6. The nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment
7. The manual laborers according to need
8. The guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.
"The Paschal Fast must be kept sacred. It should be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday, and where possible should be prolonged throughout Holy Saturday" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 110).