Today is the first of the abstinence days in the season of Lent. All persons who are at least 14 years old are required to abstain from meat While the requirement to Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday stops at age 60, abstinence does not.
In all of this the canon that seems to have gotten lost was 1251. "Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday." Some where along the way Americans got the idea that it was only during Lent.
Are you allowed to eat meat on other Fridays, yes, on the condition that you "substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety" (canon 1253)
In the first reading today Isaiah deals with those whose penitential practices don't really change their lives. How will we be different? When this Lent is over will we really have experienced some true conversion in our lives or will we simply fall back into the old habits and go back to the way we were? The choice belongs to each of us.