Holy Days and Fasting
The Birth of the Lord – Christmas & 25 December
The Assumption (Patroness of New Zealand) 15 August
Days of Penance for New Zealand
Abstinence from meat, and fasting, are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On all other Fridays of the year the law of common practice of penance is fulfilled by performing any one of the following:
- abstaining from meat or some food
- abstaining from alcoholic drink, smoking, or some form of amusement
- fasting from all food for a longer period than usual
- giving what we save as a result of our fasting and abstinence to the needy at home or abroad
- going out of our way to help someboy who is poor, sick, old or lonely
- making an extra effort in terms of family prayer, participation in the Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, or praying the Stations of the Cross.
Lent is a penitential season of prayer, self-denial and helping others. In this way the whole Church prepares for Easter with those who are to be baptised. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the particular days of fasting and abstinence in this Lenten season. The obligation of fasting binds those who have completed their eighteenth year, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. The obligation to fast means that we must reduce the quantity of food eaten, and to abstain means that we must not eat meat.
Those who receive Holy Communion are to abstain for one hour beforehand for all food and drink, with the exception of water and medicine. This does not apply to the elderly, the sick and those who care for them.