Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation. However, it is the beginning of the Lenten Season which is the primary penitential season in the Church’s liturgical year reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer. Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday, is a season of the Church calendar set aside for Christians to do penance in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the principal event of the Christian calendar. Every catholic is encouraged to develop an individual Lenten schedule of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. The Church requires every Catholic to do the following:
- Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent unless a Solemnity falls on a Friday.
- Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the day Jesus was crucified). Anyone over the age of 18, but under the age of 60, should eat only one full meal on those days, although they can also have small amounts of food in the morning and the evening.
- Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.
For more information on this topic please click on the following link: http://catholicism.about.com/od/catholicliving/f/Fasting_Rules.htm