Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Every Friday is a Day of Penance

September 13th, 2013, Promulgated by b a

Since it seemed like there was much interest in Pope Francis’ day of prayer and fasting for Syria, I thought this a good time for a friendly reminder that EVERY Friday is a day of penance.

From the Code of Canon Law

Days of Penance

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 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.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence
A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966

Christ Died for Our Salvation on Friday

18. Gratefully remembering this, Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.

19. Changing circumstances, including economic, dietary, and social elements, have made some of our people feel that the renunciation of the eating of meat is not always and for everyone the most effective means of practicing penance. Meat was once an exceptional form of food; now it is commonplace.

20. Accordingly, since the spirit of penance primarily suggests that we discipline ourselves in that which we enjoy most, to many in our day abstinence from meat no longer implies penance, while renunciation of other things would be more penitential.

21. For these and related reasons, the Catholic bishops of the United States, far from downgrading the traditional penitential observance of Friday, and motivated precisely by the desire to give the spirit of penance greater vitality, especially on Fridays, the day that Jesus died,urge our Catholic people henceforth to be guided by the following norms.

too much to post here, but do keep reading.


3 Responses to “Every Friday is a Day of Penance”

  1. Jim says:

    Ben, You would never know any of this from the homilies that we hear on Sundays, or during the week, around the diocese. Most people I know (I personally don’t) still eat meat on Fridays, unless its during Lent.

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    Not that you would pass judgment, Jim, but for the sake of others who may be following along.

    26. Perhaps we should warn those who decide to keep the Friday abstinence for reasons of personal piety and special love that they must not pass judgment on those who elect to substitute other penitential observances.

  3. Jim says:

    You have a good point there, Ben. I think it’s really up to the person to keep their own personal piety on Fridays, and other fast days, too. None of us knows the hearts and minds of others…only God knows, and that’s all that matters.

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