The Church prescribes fasting (only one full meal and two smaller meals that together are not greater than a full meal) and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Catholics aged 18 to 59 are bound to fast; those 14 to 59 are bound to abstain. Those who are ill are freed from these obligations. Everyone, even those above the age of 59, are encouraged to fast and abstain. Parents and educators are reminded of their duty to introduce children gradually to the understanding and practice of penance.

Section 29 of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ordo specifies that all Fridays of the year, including the Fridays in Lent, are special days of abstinence from meat in Canada. However, it also states that Canadian Catholics may substitute “special acts” of charity or piety on these days, even in Lent,except for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, when fasting and abstinence are required.