Difference Between Fasting and Abstinence

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    Fasting vs Abstinence

    Fasting and abstinence are two very related concepts or practices done by the devout Roman Catholic denomination. Fasting is mandated during Ash Wednesdays and Good Fridays (these days occur only once each year). While fasting is considered by some sects to be the act of totally not eating any food, the Catholic Church highlights that it is just a reduction of your normal daily food intake on specified Holy days of observation. This is done because it is said to be an act of penitence that helps one to go away from the path of sin and return to the arms of God. Moreover, this is said to help express sorrow for the sins committed.

    To be exact, fasting is the practice of eating one regular full meal per day during the said days of observation. Along with this, it is still allowable to take in two small meals in other parts of the day. These additional meals should be not in excess to the amount consumed during the regular meal. On top of this, eating snacks is not allowed when you fast.
    The Catholic Church clearly emphasizes this as a practice that must be done by all Catholics age 18 years old to 59. However, there are some cases that exceptions must be considered such as when a person is sick and unable to fast. Other Catholics who are mentally challenged or who are handicapped are also not asked to fast. To nursing mothers, pregnant women, and manual laborers, fasting may just be treated as an option. It is just encouraged for them and not required. Life is more important than the practice of fasting.

    On the other hand, abstinence is another act of penitence that observes not consuming meat in your diet or meals. A good alternative for this food product is fish, which is fairly allowable during the times of abstinence. Unlike fasting, abstinence has a broader scope of coverage as it is mandated for those age 14 and up. Moreover, aside from the usual observance of fasting during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstinence is also required during all Lenten Fridays. Other devout Catholics even practice abstinence every Friday for the entire year. This has been observed to be common among many American Catholics. The Church also stresses that other penitential acts are to be practiced in case the person is not able to do abstinence.

    Summary:

    1.Among Catholics, fasting is a reduction in the normal amount of food consumption per day: one regular meal plus two other smaller meals without the provision of snacks during the Holy Days of observation.
    2.Among Catholics, abstinence is the omission of meat and other meat products, except fish, in the diet during the Holy Days of observation.
    3.Abstinence is practiced by a wider age group of Catholic individuals 14 and up as opposed to fasting which is practiced by Catholics age 18 years old to 59.
    4.Abstinence is also practiced during all Fridays of the Lenten Season on top of its observance during Ash Wednesday and Holy Friday. Fasting is only observed during Ash Wednesday and Holy Friday.

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