How to observe Holy Saturday ?

Hi, I’ve read that while Good Friday is a traditional day of fasting, some also fast on Saturday as the climax of the season of Lent. An ancient tradition dating to the first centuries of the church calls for no food of any kind to be eaten on Holy Saturday, or for 40hours before sunrise on Sunday. However it is observed, Holy Saturday has traditionally been a time of reflection and waiting, the time of weeping that lasts for the night while awaiting the joy that comes in the morning (Psa 30:5).
What’s catholic church magisterium teaching, should I fast on Holy Saturday or not ? How to observe Holy Saturday ?

Magisterial teaching is that Holy Saturday is neither a required day of fasting nor a required day of abstinence. While it one can indeed take the approach of continuing in the penitential spirit of Lent on this day, one need not do so. One can instead choose to look forward in joyful anticipation instead.

True it is that the Temple of Our Lord’s body was destroyed, but He promised to raise it up again on the third day, and even if His Apostles didn’t quite believe that He would conquer death itself, alhough they were aware of His promise which even His enemies took seriously enough to seal the tomb, we know that He did conquer death and continues to conquer it.

This is from the Diocese of Grand Rapids website :

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday

Lent ends on Holy Thursday as we begin the evening liturgy. From that evening until Easter Sunday afternoon the Church observes the Easter Triduum (“Easter Three Days”). On Good Friday all Catholics 14 years old and older are to abstain from meat and those who are 18 years of age but not yet 59 are to fast (taking no more than one full meal; two smaller meals are permitted to maintain strength but no solid foods between meals). The Church strongly encourages that the fast and abstinence be kept also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil. Catechumens are likewise urged to fast in preparation for their baptism.

This is not the penitential Lenten fast that we keep on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is called the “Easter fast” or “Paschal fast.” It is to be a joyful fast of anticipation as we look forward to the celebration of Easter and most especially to the baptisms at the Easter Vigil. The fasting of Friday and Saturday, by tradition, include also a “fasting” from normal work and from entertainment. Prayer, reading of Scripture, reflection, attention to the needs of others: these should fill our lives and prepare us for the great Vigil and Eastertime.

“On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year, #20) Thus, we fast on Good Friday and Holy Saturday in whatever way we can “so that the joys of the Sunday of the Resurrection may be attained with uplifted and clear minds.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #110)

Huh … guess nobody sent me the memo :blush:


I am a cradle Catholic but somehow I’ve missed getting clear teaching on the Pascal Fast. According to the leaflet published each year by our parish: “Catholics are encouraged to observe the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday” … and “The Pascal Fast: Good Friday and continued and (sic), if possible on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the pascal fast is observed everywhere to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus.”

Somehow in my childhood I don’t recall any emphasis of a fast day on Holy Saturday also (the day always seemed different, it’s not like we were getting into the Easter goodies or anything).

In this circumstance, (especially considering the “encouraged” wording), I am in a state of mortal sin? The way this is worded it sounds as if a Holy Saturday fast is a preferred option. Is meat allowed on Saturday? (We plan to attend the Easter Vigil, but would have to have our meal before then because of a young child in the house.)

Also, if I am in mortal sin over this (grave matter which I truly was not aware of until now), I assume this means I cannot receive Communion. (There is no opportunity to go to confession until next weekend.)

Any insight anyone can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and God bless.

Holy Saturday is not an obligatory fast day or even a day of abstiance, so you are OK to receive communion.

The previous poster is indeed correct; there is no requirement for fasting or abstinence on Holy Saturday:

*Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. *

Additionally, you need, perhaps, to brush up a bit on what constitutes mortal sin. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

*857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with **full knowledge *and deliberate consent.

So, you’re in the clear all the way around.

A happy and blessed Easter!

please, don’t worry about mortal sin.

However, the time between the end of the Holy Thursday Mass and the Easter Vigil is traditionally considered a time of fasting/penance, etc.

While currently it’s only Good Friday that is officially a day of fast and abstinence, the long-standing tradition of the Catholic Church is to celebrate the period leading to the Easter Vigil as a time of fasting and preparation. So, there is a strong tradition in the Catholic Church for observing a period of fast/abstinence/etc. during the period following the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil beginning in the evening of Holy Saturday.

These days of Paschal fasting a preparation, while distinct from Lent, are earlier in origin in the Catholic Christian tradition and no less deserving of our Catholic observation.

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Excellent resource. Thanks for sharing. Sorry Lily M that your locale is not as open with sharing the Catholic Church tradition. Joyous Triduum all.

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Shamefully so - I was never even taught, till I came here after my reversion a few years ago - that adults were to fast as well as abstaining on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday! :eek:

In charity to my parents, they must’ve presumed I was taught about it at school or something, and obviously didn’t see me eating three squares on a Good Friday (they don’t really eat dinner anyway) :shrug:

Never mind - plan to go the whole hog this year!

FYI: The location of this document has changed. It is now located at:

The idea of fasting on Holy Saturday is very ancient as attested to in the Didache and other early Church documents. I continue my Good Friday fast up until the Vigil…after which we have a reception in the parish hall with LOTS of cake, cookies and maybe some CHOCOLATE!!!

At the very least, you should still abstain on Saturday. If you attend Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, then your fasting and abstinence ends after Easter Vigil for you have already begun the celebration of Easter.

Yes, the ancient tradition which is still observed by Eastern Christians today is total fasting on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. One reason is its Eastern tradition that the day before a Great Feast (the eve) is a day of great fasting. Pascha or Easter of course is the Feast of Feasts. Although most will not recommend and total fast for two days. I know its still a day of abstinence at least.

some of my non-religious friends find the catholic rules of fasting a bit of a joke: “one full meal and two smaller meals not to equal in size the one full meal” and they say that is about what we usually do on a regular day. the Orthodox seem to take fasting and abstaining a bit more seriously. i know we are all free to do more than is required but isn’t corporate group witness of some value. i have long thought it was a mistake when we relaxed the discipline of no meat on friday. that was a witness to our friends and neighbors that for one thing won the grudging admiration of my protestant parents, it reminded those who practiced it of Good Friday and it did not cost any money to provide this group witness to the world.


I agree. This is what I am basically saying in this thread:

Doesn’t make fasting on Holy Saturday a requirement or anything like :shrug:

I’m not even sure what you’re referring to because the thread I had linked to was deleted.

If I remember correctly, I might have been asking why the fasting rules were so relaxed.