The Catholic bishops of the United States prescribe, as a minimal obligation, that all persons who are 14 years of age and older are bound to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, on all the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.

Further, all persons 18 years of age and older, up to and including their 59th birthday, are bound to fast by limiting themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, while the other two meals on those days are to be light.

Keeping a voluntary fast throughout Lent is encouraged on the part of all.

A woman receives ashes from Deacon Greg Kandra on Ash Wednesday at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2021. Ash Wednesday is our annual reminder that we are dust, and unto dust we shall return. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)