1917 Fast: The Specifics for 2018

Some say fasting without prayer is just dieting.  In some respects, that could be correct.  Thus it is essential that we seek not only to fast this Lent, but also to pray and to give. The Church calls all Catholics during Lent to remember our sins and to do penance by praying, fasting and almsgiving; prayer gives to God, fasting gives to ourselves and almsgiving gives to others.

So in addition to fasting under the laws of the old Canon this Lent, we should also use the extra time and money saved by praying more and donating some funds to the Church, charities or other worthy causes.

One way is to carve out daily prayer time for ourselves; perhaps that is done by reciting a rosary, chaplet of divine mercy or some other meditation each day of Lent.  One easy to remember way to give alms is to donate money saved from at least one meal each day, in cumulative, to the Church collection each week.  Another way to donate is using CRS Rice Bowl, which sends savings to Catholic Relief Services, in order to help those who do not have enough to eat.

The specifics on fasting this Lent under the 1917 Code are below.

The specifics on fasting this Lent under the 1917 Code are below:

LENT 2018 (45.33 days total) under the 1917 Code of Canon Law

  • Starts Ash Wednesday, February 14th, 2018.
  • Ends 12pm (noon) Holy Saturday, March 31st, 2018.
  • Easter Sunday is the next day, April 1st, 2018, which, of course, is a feast day.
  • Under 1917 Code for Lent, every day, except for Sundays and solemnities, are days of fasting.  This amounts to 40 days of fasting.
  • On the six Sundays during Lent, any food or drink can be consumed.
  • Every Friday and Saturday morning/afternoon during Lent is a day of both fasting and abstinence from meat and meat products.
  • For purposes of calculating days below, Saturday afternoon is until 4pm (when Sunday Vigil masses begin in some parishes) and accounts for 2/3rds (or .67) of a day of fasting.


  • Thursday, February 15th
  • Monday February 19th – Thursday, February 22nd
  • Monday, February 26th – Thursday, March 1st
  • Monday, March 5th – Thursday, March 8th
  • Monday, March 12th – Thursday, March 15th
  • Tuesday, March 20th – Thursday, March 22nd
  • Monday, March 26th – Thursday, March 29th


  • Ash Wednesday, February 14th
  • Friday, February 16th – Saturday afternoon, February 17th
  • Friday, February 23rd – Saturday afternoon, February 24th
  • Friday, March 2nd – Saturday afternoon, March 3rd
  • Friday, March 9th – Saturday afternoon, March 10th
  • Friday, March 16th  – Saturday afternoon, March 17th
  • Friday, March 23rd – Saturday afternoon, March 24th
  • Good Friday, March 30th – Holy Saturday noon, March 31st


  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, February 17th – Sunday, February 18th
  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, February 24th – Sunday, February 25th
  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, March 3rd – Sunday, March 4th
  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, March 10th – Sunday, March 11th
  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, March 17th – Sunday, March 18th
  • The Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Monday, March 19th
  • Evening/Vigil Saturday, March 25th – Sunday, March 26th


What Constitutes “Fasting”?

  • Every fasting day allows for one full meal, plus two smaller meals that cannot equate to a another full meal when taken together.
  • No solid foods should be eaten in between the meals, no drinks that could count for meals can be consumed (e.g. milkshakes) and alcohol consumption is frowned upon, particularly if not accounted for with additional prayer and almsgiving.
  • Obviously, for Catholics more experienced with fasting, the less you can consume the better, with the gold standard being fasts on only bread and water over the course of 24 hours.

What Constitutes “Full Abstinence”?

  • No eating meat, meat products or soups and gravies made from them.
  • Fish, eggs, dairy, oils, condiments, shortening made from animal fat and animal-derived products such as margarine and gelatin are approved to eat.

What Constitutes “Partial Abstinence”?

  • Meat can be eaten at the principal meal on these days (i.e. Monday-Thursday during Lent)

Who was obligated to follow the 1917 Code on fasting?

  • Abstinence:  All Catholics over age 7.
  • Fasting: All Catholics between ages of 21-60.

This site is designed for healthy Catholics between the ages 0f 21-60, just as it was between 1918 – 1965. There are some exceptions to these fasting obligations, as outlined below.

Who is excused from fasting?

Important note: the Church obliges Catholics “to perform the duties of our state in life. Any deprivation that would seriously hinder us in carrying out our work, as students, employees or parents would be contrary to the will of God.”

Additionally, Catholics in these states of life are excused from fasting:

  • The frail
  • The sick
  • Those young (under 21) and those advanced in age (over 60)
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • The mentally ill
  • Manual laborers
  • Social factors (people in areas of famine or lack of food)
  • Guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity
  • Other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.