Guidelines for Traditional Penitential Practices
Traditional rules of fast and abstinence as outlined in Canons 1250-1254 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
Who was bound to observe these laws?
+ The law of abstinence bound all Catholics,
beginning on the day after their 7th birthday.
+ The law of fasting bound all Catholics, beginning on the day after their 21st birthday
and ending at the midnight which completed their 59th birthday.
[Note: The USA's particular law has lowered the obligatory fasting age to 18.]
What was forbidden and allowed to be eaten?
+ The law of abstinence forbade the eating of flesh meat and of broth made of meat,
but did not exclude the use of eggs, dairy products, or seasonings made from
the fat of animals.
+ The law of fasting prescribed that only one full meal a day was taken with
two smaller meals that did not equal the main one.
In the Universal Church
Abstinence was obligatory on all Fridays,
except on Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent.
Fasting and complete abstinence were obligatory on the following days:
Fridays and Saturdays in Lent
Vigil of Pentecost
Vigil of Christmas
Disciplinary Laws of fast and abstinence are able to be, and have been, changed by the Church. Serious obligation now exists only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On Fridays during Lent, other penances must be undertaken if the former fast and abstinence are omitted. It is strongly recommended, because we all need to do penance, to voluntarily observe the laws of fast and abstinence as they were formerly.
See also text of Archbishop Lefebvre's sermon on fasting & abstinence: