Listen to this excellent online homily on making a good preparation for Lent
From the Code of the Canon Law of the Catholic Church on Fasting and Abstinence for Lent:
• Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.
• 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.
• Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth (14) year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth (60) year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.
The Church laws demand the children of God to fast and to do penance, not because She wants us to suffer pains, but rather to taste true freedom. Freedom from the worldly attachment of seeking only earthly desires, at the cost of the supernatural. The devil loves it when we indulge, hates it when we discipline our body and soul. Indulgence traps us into web of sins. Discipline sets us free.
Obviously fasting is more than a way to develop self-restrain. Fasting helps us in our prayers, as the pain of hunger remind us of our hunger for God. Also, this hunger reminds us to be in solidarity with the poor and needy of this world, who seldom affords meat for their meals. Abstinence can create a spiritual link to those whose diets are sparse and simple. Fasting can help us to understand those who suffer every day in our world. Thus, fasting should lead us to greater efforts to alleviate that suffering. From the Catechism of the Council of Trent: “All kinds of satisfaction are reducible to three heads: prayer, fasting and alms deeds, which correspond to three kinds of goods which we have”.