Each Catholic is asked to preserve Lent's penitential purpose and character, which begins February 13, Ash Wednesday. Therefore:
• Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent.
• Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, in addition to abstaining from meat, should fast, that is, eat only one full meal on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13) and Good Friday (March 29). Smaller quantities of food may be taken at two other meals, but no food should be consumed at other times during those two days. The obligation of fasting ceases with the celebration of one's 59th birthday.
These practices are designed for spiritual growth. Catholics are not to excuse themselves lightly from these prescribed minimal penitential practices.