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Lenten Disciplines for Catholics
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     Lent will soon be upon us and we will be asking ourselves the age old questions that we always seem to forget. Since there are only a few more days before Ash Wednesday, the following information is a good review as we prepare our Lenten journey.
    The period of these forty days has long been a time of penance and change of heart for Catholics. During this time the Church asks us to undertake some type of penance that will lead to a greater awareness of our need for God and His love for us. The two penances that the Church strongly encourages us to perform are as follows:
Fasting: All baptized Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Note: Fasting is defined as eating, one full meal per day. The other two meals combined are not to equal the main meal. It does not matter which meal is the main meal. Each person may determine this fact depending on their work schedule or family responsibilities. Because the two days of fast fall on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, none of the meals should include meat.
Abstinence: All baptized Catholics 14 years of age and older are asked to abstain from all meat including chicken and other poultry products, on all Fridays during Lent. This does not include meat derivatives such as meat based soups. Meat products such as fats included in eggs, butter or other dairy products are not included in the abstinence law .
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
        As Catholics we are urged to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year. Although it is not an obligation to do so during the six weeks of Lent, the nature of the season lends itself to doing so. Since we are to spend more time in prayer, fasting and in a sacrificial mode reflecting on our sinfulness, it follows that Catholics should make an effort to receive this sacrament which enables us to rectify the rifts that have occurred in the past year. Realizing our sinfulness is vital to our experience of "New Life" at Easter.