Monday, September 12, 2022
2023 Traditional Catholic Fasting and Abstinence Calendar

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As a follow-up to the significant research I have done in regard to Traditional (both Roman and Eastern) Catholic fasting and abstinence, I have put together a 2023 fasting and abstinence calendar for my own devotional purposes. This is a follow-up to a similar one I did in 2022.

To see the calendars for other years, including more recent ones, click here

Traditional Catholic Fasting Rules:

Fasting: Fasting refers to how much food we eat. It means taking only one meal during a calendar day. The meal should be an average-sized meal as overeating at the one meal is against the spirit of the fast. Fasting generally means that the meal is to be taken later in the day. Along with the one meal, up to two snacks (technically called either a collation or frustulum) are permitted. These are optional, not required. Added up together, they may not equal the size of the one meal. No other snacking throughout the day is permitted. Fasting does not affect liquids, aside from the Eucharistic Fast which is a separate matter.

Abstinence: Abstinence in this context refers to not eating meat. Meat refers to the fleshmeat of mammals or fowl. Beef, poultry, lamb, etc are all forbidden on days of abstinence. Abstinence does not currently prohibit animal byproducts like dairy (e.g. cheese, butter, milk) or eggs, but in times past they were prohibited. Fish is permitted along with shellfish and other cold-blooded animals like alligators. In times past, days of fast were always days of abstinence as well; however, not all days of abstinence were days of mandatory fasting.

Partial Abstinence: Partial Abstinence refers to eating meat only at the principal meal of the day. Days of partial abstinence do not permit meat to be eaten as part of the collation or the frustulum. Partial abstinence started only in 1741 under Pope Benedict XIV as a concession and as part of a gradual weakening of discipline. Beforehand, days of abstinence were days of complete abstinence.

Fasting, therefore, refers to the quantity of food and the frequency of eating. Abstinence refers to what may or may not be eaten.

Calendar Notes:

1. Partial Abstinence is a modern invention and is not part of this calendar. Abstinence is always full, never partial. 

2. All Days of Lent, aside from Sundays, are days of fasting and abstinence. Sundays are days only of abstinence.

3. For Lent only abstinence refers to all animal products (e.g. dairy, butter, eggs) in addition to meat. This includes Sundays.

4. January 22nd is in the USA only an obligatory day of penance for offenses against the dignity of human life.

5. This calendar keeps the 1954 Roman Catholic Calendar and the pre-1917 practice of anticipating Vigils on Saturday that fall on Sunday in a given year.

6. Major Fasts: Great Lent (March 2 - April 16), Apostles Fast (June 13 - June 28)Dormition Fast (Aug 1 - Aug 14)St. Martin's Lent (Nov 14 - Dec 24).

7. Dominican Specific Fasting Days: April 29, August 3, and October 6 are not on the calendar but will be observed by Dominican Tertiary per the 1923 Rule (the last one before Vatican II). Same with all Fridays of the year, which Dominicans are asked to keep as days of fasting.

8. Days of fasting generally include all of the Major Fasts as noted above in addition to the following days when they fall outside of those periods: Ember Days, Vigils of the Apostles, and Vigils for Major Feasts. Rogation Days were often days of abstinence but not fast.

9. Saturday Abstinence used to be obligatory year-round with some exceptions for days "as often as no major solemnity (e.g., Christmas) occurs on Saturday, or no infirmity serves to cancel the obligation.” One exception granted in some places was for all Saturdays of the Christmas Season to be exempted.

10. Above all, this calendar goes far beyond the mere "minimums," which are virtually non-existent, and attempts to present concrete ways for Catholics to actually fast in the manner our forefathers did.

Not listed but certainly recommendable based on the Early Church's practice of Wednesday penance (and based on the wishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), would be to also observe abstinence year-round on Wednesdays (beyond the dates noted on the calendar). Such a practice would be commendable on all additional Wednesdays of the year with exceptions whenever either a Holy Day of Obligation, Former Holy Day of Obligation, or First Class Feast falls on Wednesday.

For those interested in understanding the various ways fasting and abstinence have changed over time, please explore the archives regarding fasting and abstinence. And for those looking for ideas on what to make to eat on fasting days, the Lenten Cookbook produced by Sophia Institute Press has a section on vegan recipes that is worth checking out.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

Digital Version:

To order a digital .ics file of the above calendar that can be easily imported into your calendar application (e.g., Outlook, Google, Apple, etc.), order below. 

The file is only $3.95. Please order it by clicking here.

Note that the file is a free benefit to all of my Patreon members. So if you become a patron, you will get that and many other benefits.

25 comment(s):

del_button September 16, 2022 at 10:35 PM
Alexandra said...

Thank you for publishing the updated calendar for 2023! I was raised Catholic, but have recently been interested in Orthodoxy due to the stricter fasting requirements. It’s a shame that many Catholics no longer see fasting as mandatory, but this is fantastic information. Thank you, again!

del_button September 29, 2022 at 5:22 PM
Anonymous said...

God bless you for putting this together for those of us with a penitential spirit and a longing for a restoration of Tradition. I've done a lot of research over the last few years after returning to the Church, including reading the Insular Penitentials, but knowledge is all so dispersed it's a blessing to have this in an easy-to-follow calendar format. I was discerning becoming a Dominican Tertiary, but the changes to their Rule and the more Liberal chapters scared me off and I don't think it's for me, though I definitely have a strong affinity for the Dominican Order and its charism. I would have to attend the Novus Ordo once a month for their meetings (despite there being a Dominican Rite Latin Mass at the same parish two hours later the same days!), but I am peacefully protesting the N.O. by not attending it, so I decided against discerning further. God bless Dominicans such as yourself who are dedicated to Tradition and counter-revolutionary action against the Liberal changes in the Church.

del_button September 30, 2022 at 2:03 AM
Matthew said...

There are SSPX affiliated Dominicans. If you would like to be a Dominican Tertiary, you can do so without ever having any involvement with the Novus Ordo. See:

del_button November 27, 2022 at 2:22 PM
Heloisa said...

Thank you for these calendars and all the notes about this subject. I will be trying to do some reading over Advent - and slowly work through some of the other topics as well. You are added to my prayer list!

del_button December 19, 2022 at 9:44 PM
Anonymous said...

Is Epiphany 2023 a fast day?

del_button December 19, 2022 at 10:32 PM
Matthew said...

Fasting? No. But January 6th is still a day of abstinence in 2023 since it falls on a Friday. The fact it happens to be Epiphany Day does NOT change that.

del_button January 21, 2023 at 5:16 PM
Anonymous said...

I suppose Corpus Christi should be exempted from the Apostles Fast.

del_button January 21, 2023 at 5:59 PM
Matthew said...

That is certainly a reasonable adaptation for Roman Catholics to make. Of course when the Apostles Fast began, Corpus Christi was not yet established as a Holy Day.

del_button January 30, 2023 at 6:33 AM
Anonymous said...

For Roman Catholics shouldn't Pre-Lent be preferred over Apostles and Assumption fasts? E.g. In Poland Pre-Lent was observed until XIV century.

del_button January 30, 2023 at 7:26 AM
Matthew said...

It is true that some places kept Septuagesima as days of fast but that was never universal. In some places a custom of observing a fast of devotion, in anticipation of and in preparation for the Great Lenten fast, was observed as Father Weiser mentions in his “Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs”:

"This preparatory time of pre-Lent in the Latin Church was suggested by the practice of the Byzantine Church, which started its great fast earlier, because their ‘forty days’ did not include Saturdays. Saint Maximum (465 AD), Bishop of Turin, mentioned the practice in one of his sermons. It is a pious custom, he said, to keep a fast of devotion (not of obligation) before the start of Lent."

del_button January 31, 2023 at 6:04 AM
Anonymous said...

Thank you.

To be precise, in Poland we eat "pączki" on Fat Thursday, not Fat Tuesday (when we traditionally eat herrings). It is today still an universal custom throughout Poland, although most of the people have no idea of Pre-Lent. The reason was exactly this: from Quinquagesima you cannot eat lacticina, on Friday and Saturday you fast, thus the Thursday between Sexagesima and Quinquagesima is the last day to eat "pączki".

del_button February 13, 2023 at 3:26 PM
Anonymous said...

I would like to make a copy of the calendar above. Do I need to pay to print off a hard copy?

del_button February 13, 2023 at 3:59 PM
Matthew said...

The graphic at the top of this page can be clicked on and printed. The ics file to add to your calendar is the part for sale

del_button February 13, 2023 at 5:24 PM
Anonymous said...

Thanks Matthew for consolidating all the traditional fasting days! This will be my first Lenten fast since returning to the catholic church.

del_button February 13, 2023 at 6:44 PM
Matthew said...

Deo gratias!

del_button February 19, 2023 at 3:18 PM
Anonymous said...

Ukrainian Catholic starts 2 days earlier on Feb 20. Any other differences?

del_button February 24, 2023 at 11:25 PM
Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that the bottom of the calendar reads, "astinence" multiple times.

del_button February 24, 2023 at 11:27 PM
Anonymous said...

Other than that, thank you so much for putting this together!

del_button February 25, 2023 at 5:25 PM
Matthew said...

Thanks for pointing that out! Corrected.

del_button March 16, 2023 at 9:32 AM
Anonymous said...

We use the proton calendar - will the download work this as well?

del_button March 16, 2023 at 9:37 AM
Matthew said...

Not sure. If you can add an .ics file, then yes

del_button March 18, 2023 at 4:55 PM
Anonymous said...

I've imported mine into Proton, had to use the desktop version as mobile did not have multiple event functionality.

del_button April 11, 2023 at 5:07 PM
Anonymous said...

So, completed my first Lenten fast as I said I would in my above February 13, 2023 - 5:24PM post. First 4-5 days of hunger were rough, but it got easier as the days went on. The last 3 days were also rough, as I found myself obsessed with the thought of food and anticipating the return to my regular eating. I lost a lot of weight in the process, both fat & muscle mass. However, the experience was something I wouldn't trade in for anything. Got much closer to God, Jesus, and my Catholic faith. Now that Lent has been over for a few days now I find myself somewhat sad about it ending. Is this strange? Eating feels great, but I miss the "deepness" that fasting coupled with prayer brought me. Perhaps I'm crazy. Anyone else ever experience this?

del_button November 23, 2023 at 3:57 PM
Anonymous said...

I’m sorry for having trouble understanding, but is dairy allowed on advent if i’m trying to keep a strict fast? Or is only forbidden on lent?

del_button November 23, 2023 at 4:05 PM
Matthew said...

By the time of St. Thomas Aquinas, ONLY Lent was vegan.

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