Lenten Fasting Rules from St. Thomas Aquinas

The rules of fasting from St. Thomas Aquinas, compiled by Dr. Taylor Marshall. Level up your Lenten penances this year!

Today’s Catholic has it very easy for fasting during Lent. The following is what we are required to do during Lent.

  • On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays of Lent, abstain from eating meat if your 14 and older.
  • On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, everyone 18 to 59 should fast from food. This excludes those with medical conditions, including pregnant and nursing mothers.

The food fast isn’t even that difficult to do. This is one regular meal and two smaller meals which combined wouldn’t be larger than the regular meal. So, you can have fish and chips for the main meal, and a fish burger for each of the smaller meals. No snacking in between meals. Seriously, this isn’t my idea of fasting.

A tradition that many Catholics dread every Lent is that something is to be given up that they enjoy, such as Facebook, television, or a bad habit like worrying. We’ve never had it this easy. Give up social media and eat fish on Fridays. Maybe if we ate the fish while walking up hill in a snowstorm in shoes with holes in it, then this can be considered a penance.

We need to get back to tradition. The modern Lenten practices have made us too soft. Dr. Taylor Marshall compiled a list of traditional Lenten practices from St. Thomas Aquinas. This is a much better way to give up things during Lent, and you can still use Facebook without feeling guilty. Here is your to do list for Lent:

  1. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday: no food for the entire day.
  2. No food on the other days of Lent until 3 pm (the hour of Jesus’ death). Water, tea, and coffee are ok throughout the day. I’ll grab an ice coffee on the way to work.
  3. No meat or fats from animals. This includes bacon. Sorry Canada.
  4. No milk products (including cheese and butter).
  5. No eggs.

I’ll add point #6: pray the complete rosary (all 3 Mysteries) daily. You should be doing this anyways. Our Lady of Fatima requested us to pray 1/3 of the rosary each day which is just one Mystery (i.e. 5 decades).

The big plus from the Aquinas fast is that if you also leave out wheat and carbs (i.e. rice and potatoes), you’re doing a detox cleanse and you’ll lose some weight over Lent. So, you become holier and you get to buy new pants on Easter Sunday when your waist gets smaller. Definitely a win in both areas. Who knew that Lent would have both positive spiritual and physical effects on us?

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