Good Friday-14thApr, 2017
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Day of Fasting

Christianity observes Good Friday and Ash Wednesday as obligatory days of fasting and self-restraint. Especially, for Catholics, Fridays during Lent phase are obligatory time of abstinence. The rules for fasting in the Latin Catholic Church are obligatory from the age of 18 until till 59 years. During the Good Friday fast, you can consume one full meal, along with two smaller meals, which shall not be equal to a full meal.

There are still some people who refrain from eating at all. However, the rules regarding abstinence from meat is subjected on the members of the Latin Catholic Church from 14 years of age. Most of the followers try to continue the Good Friday fast until the Easter Vigil, which takes place on Holy Saturday night. Good Friday fast is considered as the "paschal fast" honouring the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus. Good Friday is the most sorrowful, the most sombre, and also one of the holiest and vital days of the Christian year.

Traditional V/s Contemporary Rules of Good Friday Fast -

The conventional Christian beliefs had quite restrictive rules on Good Friday Fast. However it has smoothened over time and now Catholics simply follow this rule – they eat nothing more than one regular (can have meat) meal followed by two smaller meatless meals. No snacks are allowed on this fasting day. Liquid intake is allowed in abundance; like water, tea, milk, juices and coffee. Alcoholic beverages do not make the fast invalid but drinking alcohol on Good Friday fast stands contrary to the spirit of doing sacrament.

Reasons for Fasting on Good Friday -

  • Obedience – The Catholics fast on Good Friday out of obedience as they believe “Our Lord and His Apostles tell us to”. Catholics also believe that Good Friday fasting aids them to get their body disciplined and get spiritually focussed intently.
  • Penance - They also fast to do penance. The observance of the holy law of fasting, by the Christian men includes to withdraw from sin, detest the past life badly lived, or confess the sins. Penance also mean satisfying divine justice with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and following the spiritual life. Fasting says that you are sorry for every wrongdoing, large or small. Accepting God's punishment means you are punishing yourself. The Church therefore, declares that all faithful followers should fast and get the opportunity to reap worthy fruits of penance.
Why Catholics have Only Fish on Good Friday?

Technically, the Catholics should be fasting on Good Friday, that allows one full meal for the day and then to merely sustain two smaller meals for the rest of the day. They are also supposed to abstain from eating meat on Good Friday and also on all the Fridays in Lent (also on Ash Wednesday). In Christianity, fish is believed to be a fit substitute for meat-based meals. However, many also indulge in purely vegetarian meals on the day. Fish during Good Friday was particularly during the old days when there weren’t much vegetarian recipes.

In course of time, the Second Vatican Council had simplified many Catholic customs and laws including the rules for Good Friday. The rules had too much emphasis on sacrifice and sin; rather all practices did not have too much of justified explanations. Most of the Catholics believed and still believe that breaking Friday abstinence is a serious sin and can even take you to hell after death. However, the inclusion of fish on Good Friday fast made some improvising on the strict Lent norms. Thus, in many countries, Good Friday is also called “Fish Friday”.

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