MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged all Filipino Catholics to practice fasting to mark the start of the Lenten season.
Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, said the sacrifice has to begin today, Ash Wednesday, " as a fitting start of the Lenten season."
Catholics are obligated to fast and abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
"During Ash Wednesday, there is a basic invitation to take only one full meal as a form of sacrifice for the day. It is up to you to choose which meals you will give up. But whatever savings you gain for giving up two other full meals are meant to be shared with others," Garganta told YouthPinoy.
Garganta, however, noted that the practice of fasting this year would be "overly difficult" due to anticipated events such as graduation parties, feasts and vacations.
Nonetheless, he encouraged Filipinos to limit their attendance to the most important events, and avoid alcoholic drinks.
"There really are many opportunities to gather together and share meals during the Lenten season. We are not saying they should not attend these occasions but we are advising them to attend those that are the meaningful ones," he said.
Garganta also encouraged the elderly Catholics to use the season as an opportunity to teach the young the value of sacrifice. One of the ways to do this, Garganta said, is to hold feeding programs or organize Bible study and other activities.
"Lent is the time when elders can encourage the young to see the beauty of doing sacrifice. They themselves should practice it and provide good witnessing to the youth," he said.
In the duration of the Lenten season, Catholics aged 14 and above are required to abstain from eating meat during Fridays.
On the other hand, fasting, or the reduction of the amount of food normally eaten, should be done by Catholics aged 18 to 59.