An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Days of Abstinence

Days when Christians traditionally abstained from eating meat. Roman Catholics prior to Vatican Council II distinguished fast days on which the quantity of food consumed was reduced (e.g., the weekdays of Lent), and days of abstinence on which meat was not eaten (e.g., Fridays). The 1928 BCP in its table of fasts listed “other days of fasting on which the Church requires such a measure of abstinence as is more especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion.” These included the forty days of Lent, the ember days, and Fridays. No distinction was made between fasting and abstinence. The 1979 BCP dropped the ember days from the list and refers to both Lenten weekdays and Fridays outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons as Days of Special Devotion “observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial” (p. 17). While this permits the traditional observance of Days of Abstinence, it clearly leaves the nature of the special acts of discipline and self-denial to the individual See Black Fast.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.