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. Since this was not stated as binding under pain of sin, not to do so on a single occasion would not in itself be sinful. However, since penance is a divine command, the general refusal to do penance is certainly gravely sinful. For most people the easiest way to consistently fulfill this command is the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year which are not liturgical solemnities. When solemnities, such as the Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints etc. fall on a Friday, we neither abstain or fast.
This paragraph taken from EWTN seems to indicate that the Lenten obligation to abstain from meat is dispensed because it is a solemnity. Is this information correct?
Yes. The Code of Canon Law says:
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.
The Annunciation is a solemnity.
I emailed my vicar general last week about this (and other things), and he said that if a solemnity falls on a lenten friday, the solemnity “overrules” the lenten Friday. There is no dispensation needed, it is automatic. Of course, you may still attend a fish fry if you wish, but you may also attend a chicken fry.
Since you are canonically Roman, I think the canon applies to you. Nonetheless:
Can. 1 The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church.
Our Eastern friends have, as I understand it, their own code of statutes.
No, I asked my Ukrainian Bishop. One thing I appreciate about the Eastern Rites is the small, close knit communities that its not uncommon for the Bishop to hang around after Liturgy and join in the after-Liturgy breakfast.
I’m not aware of any Canon Law that says we should follow the laws of the Church of our Canonical enrollment. But St. Ambrose did say that he follows Rome’s fasting rules when he is in Rome, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Since now I’m with the Ukrainians, I’ll do as they do.
St. Ambrose did not live under the present Code of Canon Law. “Can. 12 §1: Universal laws bind everywhere all those for whom they were issued.” For whom are the universal laws of the Code issued? “Can. 1: The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church.” You will find this to be the case if you ever have marriage issues, or have to undergo a canonical trial for some remote reason, or whatever. It will all be governed by the CIC. A Byzantine bishop cannot dispense the obligations you have as a Latin-rite Catholic.
A person in your situation is of course free to supplement those obligations by voluntarily taking on the customs and rules of an Eastern-rite church where they do not conflict. But if, for instance, some random Thursday happens to be a holy day of obligation under the CIC and not in the Eastern rite, he must still go to Mass on pain of sin. If Byzantines do not fast on Ash Wednesday, he still must. That sort of thing.
EDIT: P.S., I recognize that it’s none of my business and that you didn’t ask about it. But I thought you would want to know.
The great thing about the Byzantine Rite is it has “stricter” observances than the RC. Ash Wednesday shouldn’t be a problem because Wednesdays and Fridays are the fast/abstinence days for the Byzantine Rite. In Canada the days of obligations are only Christmas and January 1st. In the Ukrainian Church, 7 of the 12 Great Feasts are seen as “days of obligation”, which includes Christmas/Nativity. Although January 1st isn’t, its the Feast of St. Basil the Great which is a special day in the Byzantine Rite and his Liturgy is celebrated.
I’ve always valued your posts, so its fine. But I already went through the same questions you are posting here. But I’d go with what the Bishop says. It wasn’t a short conversation and he did give me many examples, both for RCs coming into the Byzantine Rite, and Ukrainians switching to parishes and living life as RCs. In many instances, people never switch Rites formally. We can interpret Canon Law many different ways. There were earlier discussions here about Days of Obligation and which to observe when we are traveling. The answer was we observe the Days of Obligation of the territory we are in. Would territory only apply to physical location? What about jurisdiction? I go to the Ukrainian parish and my physical location is the physical territory of that Bishop, which he shares of course with the Latin Bishop. So who’s territory am I in? Canonical Enrollment? Or one whom I follow in practice?
The bottom line here is spirituality. Would we let the legalism get in the way of one’s spirituality? Will God hold it against us for following one of His Bishops? Its not like I broke Canon Law in contempt of the Church. At the end of the day, I am still following the Church, since it is still one Church.
Well, we had nothing in our diocesan paper OR our bulletin exempting us from this. Maybe it depends on what area of the country you live in (I live in the West).
So, I diid choose to keep the Lenten Fast (not much of meat eater anyway). But I was upset that our diocesan paper that is published each Friday chose not to say one word about this feast. Last week it ignored the Feast of St. Joseph, so I emailed them expressing my disappointment.
To tell you the truth, fasting from surfing on the computer, fasting from most TV programs and listening to music is far harder for me then abstaining from meat.
For whatever it’s worth now, the Code of Canon Law has universal application (within the Latin Rite) for the worldwide Church, so it doesn’t depend on your area or on what is printed in your bulletin. The Canon says, “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.” Therefore there was no Friday abstinence to be observed at all yesterday. Of course, everyone’s free to not eat meat if they don’t want to. Neither did I, as it turns out, though I didn’t particularly plan it that way.
Just a comment. While its wonderful that we consciously abstain and fast during Lent to remind us of things more necessary than food, its also good to consciously not-fast during such Feasts/Solemnities to remind us that it is indeed a special day.
It was kind of funny; several of my coworkers who are Catholic know that I am in RCIA (and are super-excited about it) and one of them came over to my cubicle on Friday morning to ask if I knew that abstinence was lifted because it was a Solemnity. I guess they had it printed in their bulletin, and she mentioned that she didn’t think it was common knowledge.