Fridays & Abstinence

Fridays & Abstinence 2017-06-09T14:21:59+00:00

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Jesus Christ died for our sins on Good Friday, and to remember his Passion we as Catholics traditionally mark Fridays in a special way. Believe it or not according to current Church law (reference the 1983 Code of Canon Law: 1250-1252), all Fridays are penitential days, and abstaining from eating meat is to be observed throughout the year unless the Friday is also a solemnity. Most American Catholics, however, only abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. Why? Well, because our bishops have permitted us to eat meat if we want just so long as we voluntarily substitute some other penitential or charitable practice on Fridays throughout the year. I guess the idea was now Catholics could eat hot dogs with their neighbors on Friday nights just so long as those same Catholics had maybe prayed a rosary or skipped lunch. Still, once the practice was relaxed, Catholics just forgot about Fridays. Now no one would be surprised to see a bishop at a steak house on Friday, and just about all of us have simply forgotten what penance is. Folks, this is sad. Frankly abstaining from meat one day a week is not that difficult, and it might even prove to be both economical and healthy, but the point of this practice is to help us to recall the Lord’s sacrifice. Moreover abstinence and periodic, reasonable fasting are also a huge part of our venerable spiritual tradition. One would be hard pressed to name a single saint who didn’t fast. While most Catholics generally still know that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days for both abstinence and fasting, we as practicing faithful could do a lot more to revive our own spiritual traditions. Whether we choose abstinence or “some other form of penance,” we should try to keep in mind that just as every Sunday is meant to be a “little Easter,” so is every Friday meant to be a “little Good Friday.” Let’s say we try to do our part to regain something of our tradition here, and thereby not lose sight of the importance of the Lord’s Passion. If he died on Good Friday for our salvation, then let us poor sinners accept a little bit of penance in imitation of Christ our Lord.