Ash Wednesday Fasting Rules: Catholic and Episcopal Fasting Rules, Including Whether You Can Drink Coffee

March 5, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday is today, March 5, and many people are wondering about the fasting rules, including whether they can drink coffee.

Catholic rules dictate that all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, according to

“Fasting as explained by the U.S. bishops means partaking of only one full meal. Some food (not equaling another full meal) is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening—depending on when a person chooses to eat the main or full meal.”

In addition, Catholics 14 years and older must abstain from meat.

Abstinence doesn’t include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat, such as broth or gravy. 

Then again, the website cites U.S. bishops pointing out that while it’s considered serious to not obey the requirements, not everyone is going to follow them. Some people may be sick and choose not to fast, it says.

Depending on who you ask, coffee is permitted throughout the day on Ash Wednesday. However, it’s considered better to take it with your meal or with the other food taken during the day.

For Episcopals, fasting is also basically required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday except for a serious illness or other exceptions.


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