"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." -St. Therese of Lisieux (CCC 2558)
During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practice self-control through fasting. Dive into God's word in Scripture this Lent or pray the rosary with your family.
Prayers and Devotions
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.
If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
Resources on Fasting
For members of the Latin Catholic Church within the United States, please see the USCCB's Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence and the complementary norm to canon 1253 and the Code of Canon Law (cc. 1249-1253)
CRS Rice Bowl is also one way Catholics can enhance their Lenten fasting practice by giving up meals and donating the cost of those meals to Catholic Relief Services in order to help those who do not have enough to eat.
The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels. During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on "almsgiving," which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).
Opportunities for Almsgiving during Lent
There are several special opportunities for almsgiving through donations to Church ministries for which collections are conducted during the Lenten season including:
Many dioceses hold special appeals for local needs during Lent and there are countless other ways to offer your time, talent and treasure to needy individuals and organizations during Lent and throughout the year. For ideas, contact your diocesan Social Concerns office or your local Catholic Charities affiliate.
The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has a variety of Resources and Tools on the Church's social mission and the option for the poor, including an updated Poverty Tour.