Every friday or just during the lent?

Do we have to fast every friday or just during the lent?

I’m invited to a birthday party today, and we were going to go out for pizzas. I can always order a margarita… but I’d really like to know how’s with the traditional no meat on fridays rule.

Sort of yes, sort of no. The standing rule is you can substitute for the no meat fast. So if you do some other thing to be mindful of God and sacrifice you do not need to abstain from meat.

So a special prayer time like doing a rosary if you don’t normally or doing something charity wise etc.

"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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified.

  4. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.

  5. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat.We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations:
    a.We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became,especially in times of persecution and of great poverty,no mean evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Church.
    b.We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate,personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.

  6. Every Catholic Christian understands that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence,except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that "no"scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience,confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

  7. 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. Friday, please God,will acquire among us other forms of penitential witness which may become as much a part of the devout way of life in the future as Friday abstinence from meat. In this connection we have foremost in mind the modern need for self-discipline in the use of stimulants and for a renewed emphasis on the virtue of temperance, especially in the use of alcoholic beverages.

  8. It would bring great glory to God and good to souls if Fridays found our people doing volunteer work in hospitals, visiting the sick, serving the needs of the aged and the lonely, instructing the young in the Faith, participating as Christians in community affairs, and meeting our obligations to our families, our friends,our neighbors, and our community, including our parishes, with a special zeal born of the desire to add the merit of penance to the other virtues exercised in good works born of living faith.

  9. In summary, let it not be said that by this action, implementing the spirit of renewal coming out of the Council, we have abolished Friday, repudiated the holy traditions of our fathers, or diminished the insistence of the Church on the fact of sin and the need for penance. . . ."

More at:

There is no little debate presently ongoing on whether the above makes ALL Friday penance acts VOLUNTARY (i.e. whether any penitential act at all is required), or whether it merely makes voluntary what type of Friday penance one may choose.

What is clearly true is that abstaining from meat on every Friday outside of Lent is no longer required. Some will say that you may choose another way to offer Friday to God as a special day. Others will say that you need not choose to do anything at all.

See e.g.

Jimmy Akin who say NO obligation at all: jimmyakin.com/2004/07/since_tomorrow_.html


Colin B. Donovan, STL, who says you must choose some form of Penance but it need not be abstaining from meat: ewtn.com/expert/answers/fast_and_abstinence.htm

My brief review indicates that Jimmy Akin is in the minority on this point.




Traditionally, a Catholic is to abstain from meat on every Friday of the year, except for the Friday within the Octave of Easter, when a solemnity falls on a Friday, and in the case of the United States, on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I depends on what country you are in. The Catholic bishops of the United States have suspended the required practice of Friday abstinence for Fridays outside Lent. In the UK, however, the regular practice of Friday abstinence continues.


On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. They must do some penitential/charitable practice on these Fridays.

. . . and then again, maybe it doesn’t



. . . is no longer the law of the church. That is the question the OP had. Not what the “tradition” was.

You are only required to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. You only have to fast on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.

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