Lenten Regulations

2018 Lenten Regulations for the Diocese of Santa Rosa


The Lenten Season has a double character, namely to prepare both catechumens and faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery.  The catechumens, both with the Rite of Election and Scrutinies, and by catechesis, are prepared for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation; the faithful, ever more attentive to the Word of God and prayer, prepare themselves by penance for the renewal of their baptismal promises. (From: The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist)


The current discipline is as follows:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence, that is, limited to a single, full meal and abstinence from meat.
  • The other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
  • The law of fasting permits only one full meal a day, but it does allow the taking of some food in the morning and a second light meal at noon or in the evening, as you prefer.  Persons who have completed their eighteenth year to the beginning of their sixtieth (60) year are obligated to fast.
  • The law of abstinence from meat applies to all persons who have completed their fourteenth year of age.

However, it is highly recommended that children from ages seven to fourteen years also follow the law of abstinence.

  • All Catholics are encouraged to receive Holy Eucharist frequently during Lent and to receive the Sacrament of Penance so that all may be prepared to celebrate more fully the paschal mystery. Those who have received their first Holy Communion are to receive Holy Communion during the Easter season.
  • The determination of these days of obligatory penance, as listed above, should not be understood as limiting the occasions for Christian penance.  This penance is to help us see and shorten the distance between our present lives and the life God wants for each of us.  “Penance should not be only internal and individual but external and social.”  (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #110)
  • Marriages may be celebrated with Mass and the nuptial blessing should always be given.  It is, however, contrary to the spirit of penance during Lent to plan an elaborate wedding with lavish decorations.

Confirmation at the Easter Vigil: (1) Canon Law grants to pastors and parochial vicars the faculty to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, within their proper parish, to any adult or child over the age of seven years whom he has baptized or received into full communion of the Church. (2) For any adult who has been baptized Catholic the priest must request the faculty from the Bishop, for validity, to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. Only an adult over the age of eighteen years falls into this category. Anyone younger than eighteen years must be confirmed by the Bishop on the occasion of his pastoral visit to the parish.  In requesting the faculty to Confirm the priest is to provide the reason for his request and is also to submit the name and age of each candidate for Confirmation to the Bishop[1]. Please note that paragraph 27 of the National Statutes for the Catechumenate states that “The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance with candidates for Confirmation and Eucharist is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of Confirmation and the Eucharist.