Abstaining from Meat on Fridays?


In a recent thread the question of Friday abstinence arose, and I must admit that the answer to this question seems to be a jealously guarded secret. Not only was the Friday penance NOT rescinded, it was actually made more meaningful–rather like the Beatitudes not replacing the Ten Commandments, but actually strengthening them.

Our Bishops put our a pamphlet entitled, "Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics which supports this. usccb.org/dpp/penitential.htm

"If we are serious about embracing the penitential discipline that 
is rooted in the call to discipleship, then we will identify specific 
times and places for prayer, penance, and works of charity. 
Growth in spiritual maturity demands a certain level of 
specificity, for it shows that we take seriously God's call to 
discipline and are willing to hold ourselves accountable. In our     
Catholic tradition we specify certain days and seasons for 
special works of penance: Fridays, on which we commemorate 
the death of the Lord, and Lent, our forty days of preparation for 
the Easter mysteries.

Recalling our Lord's Passion and death on Good Friday, we 
hold all Fridays to have special significance. Jesus' self-denial 
and self-offering invite us to enter freely into his experience by 
forgoing food, bearing humiliations, and forgiving those who 
injure us. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the principal 
agent of all spiri-tual transformation, this can be done—and 
done with a spirit of quiet joy. For Christians, suffering and joy 
are not incompatible.

Another source of information on Friday Penances can be found here: ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?Pgnu=1&Pg=Forum9&recnu=22&number=443945

One way to understand the new directives is that giving up meat is not penitential for those who are vegetarians, nor should simply abstaining from meat take the plave of living out our call to mission–we should also practice forgiveness of hurts, almsgiving, and the other spiritual & corporal acts of mercy. In effect, the Church still finds exemplary, Friday abstinence in honor of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but also exhorts us toward acts of charity among our fellow man.

Friday penance is still on the books, and acts of mercy on Fridays are greatly encouraged. If we are not managing to squeeze in Friday acts of charity, I would think a bare minimum would be to remembber our Lord’s Sacrifice for our sakes with abstaining from meat or another more meaningful substitution.



Thank you for the encouragement. that was a very edifying post.

I have only relatively recently begun to abstain from meat on Friday, and since I really, really like meat – well it is certainly a form of outward sacrifice and mortification. Now if only I can get my mind and heart in the right place. :slight_smile:

How strange it is that on the one day that I decide to abstain from meat, it is the day that I most desire it! The “old Adam”. . .seems to be alive and well in me.

Thanks again your timely reminder,
God Bless you,


I too have just recently learned that the abstinance requirement is still in effect. I am thankful for all who pointed it out to me, with the fullness of church documents to back it up.



I haven’t eaten meat on Friday in two years, since returning to the Catholic Church, but there is no longer any real difficulty for me to not eat meat even though it does keep me quite recollected. Even so, I think for me to give up coffee on Fridays would be far more “sacrificial”–which as it appears, we could choose any penance for Fridays (in the US) since the meat-penance requirement was amended to one of our choice, correct?



For those interested in Jimmy Akin’s take on the whole Friday penance thing:





I wrote an article on this as well, if anyone is interested…


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