Friday Abstinence during Lent

I have a question about what the ruling is in Australia about whether abstinence is required on Fridays of Lent. My husband (the cradle Catholic) had just told me that it is voluntary and he is going ahead and having his sausages for breakfast. I told him it was binding and he disagreed and said he would have his snags even if it meant he went to hell for it.

So what is it in Australia - abstinence binding on Fridays during Lent or not?

ps - I have tried the ACBC (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference) site and it has no information on this at all. A search on Friday Abstinence produced no documents.

I assume you’re living in Australia.

Have you tried asking your local priest?

Yes it is manitory to a point. For example I’m just getting out a huge dept whole and if all I have on a friday morning is bacon guess what?

And no its not a “sin” its giving up a oppertuniy to attone for sin.
However GoodFriday itself is Manitory.

Its mandatory Year long in the USA…People are to not eat meat on Fridays ALL YEAR. but the spirit of vatican II ding dongs stepped in and hi-jacked the real Vatican II and ran around telling everyone a big fat lie about meatless fridays going away

…the only way an able bodied, within the age limit Catholic can get out of the mandatory observation is to do an act of charity or penance in its place…

yeah right…Like that is happening.!

I found this here:

‘‘In Australia, Fridays during the year, Wednesdays and Saturdays during Lent, Holy Thursday, Wednesdays during Advent, Ember Days, the vigils of Christmas, Pentecost, the Assumption, Sts. Peter and Paul, and All Saints are days of abstinence. There is a somewhat general practice whereby the use of meat is allowed at the chief meal on ordinary Saturdays throughout the year. For the rest, the application of the law of abstinence is much the same as in Ireland (The Year Book of Australia, Sydney, 1892).’’

So, now we know what the law was in 1892.

Probably the only way to find out what it is today, in 2007, is to ask the priest, or better yet, the Bishop. :slight_smile:

oops :blush:

The bishops of Australia do not appear to impose additional requirements of abstinence on Fridays — apart from Good Friday — even in Lent.

Instead, the complementary legislation of that episcopal conference provides that, on other Fridays of the year, the law of the common practice of penance is fulfilled by performing prayer, self-denial, or helping others. See Australasian Catholic Record, 62 (1985), pp. 428-429 as reported in the 2004 edition of the Code of Canon Law Annotated (2nd ed).

Perhaps someone from Australia can verify that, and the OP should still ring the parish priest.

However, it has been asserted above on this thread that “Its mandatory Year long in the USA…People are to not eat meat on Fridays ALL YEAR.” I do not believe that this is correct at all, if it is meant to speak of the Latin Church.

Correct information would be found in the* Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence*, particularly in paragraphs 21-28. .

According to my Bishop (Fredrick Henry of Calgary) this is the norm.

People in special circumstances can substitute other acts of penance instead.

“Special circumstances” are not defined, so anybody can basically declare themselves “special” and do a different act of penance in the place of abstinence from meat, but if you consider yourself “normal” then it is expected that you would abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year with the exception of solemnities.

There’s lots of great seafood and vegetarian entrees. It shouldn’t be a hardship on anyone to not eat meat on Fridays. :wink:

The Code of Canon Law applies to all Latin Rite Catholics - US, Australia, Mars or Timbuktu - and you can read it here:

Well, that is the bishop of Calgary, not the USCCB.

Deacon Cameron is a deacon and an accomplished canon lawyer, so I am going to keep on keeping on with his advice.

And today, because I have been laid low by the flu, I am going back to bed, and offering up flu with children home- and having manhattan clam chowder. Maybe just tomato soup and grilled chese. Maybe just tomato soup. Maybe Gatorade.

For the Aussies- Isn’t Vegamite good for Lent??

Thanks to everyone who has answered me.

I have asked my parish priest about ordinary Fridays. After leaving it with him for about 6 weeks, he told me he couldn’t find out what the ACBC has stated about it :confused: , so I have been following what the USSCB says - It is highly recommended to abstain on Fridays, but it is not mandatory. In many ways, I find it harder to abstain when it isn’t required. I go to the fridge and think, “oh yeah, I can have bacon and eggs for breakfast, I’ll just pray another 10 minutes tonight instead.” Then, knowing myself, and the problem I’ve been having the last few years with not being able to pray, I forgo the meat and abstain. At least, I can do that and the self-discipline is good for me.

I sent an email through the ‘contact us’ section on the ACBC website to ask this question. They haven’t answered yet. I was hoping some of the other Aussies on this site would know.

Canon law says that the local Bishops Conference has the right to decide what form Friday Penance takes. If they make no statement modifying penance, then the provisions in canon law apply. I have been trying to find out just what the ACBC has said, if anything. This gets so confusing when you move between countries. (since becoming Catholic, I’ve lived in the US, Scotland and Australia) IMO, it should be standard the world over so we all know where we stand and are unified in practice.

Vegemite is good any time, not just Lent!! Ummmm Yummmm

Wellll, you could have Vegemite on Fridays, unless you wanted to make giving up Vegemite the sacrifice…


The place to go should be the website of your local diocese (or call your local bishop’s office). I know our Archbishop here in Sydney puts out, every year without fail, a notice to be posted in all churches in the diocese regarding the Lenten obligation. And here I know for a fact that it’s EVERY Friday of Lent, there’s no reason why your own Diocese’s rules should be any different.

And if your husband is so cavalier with his soul as to joke about going to hell for such a stupid reason, I can only pray for him and suggest that you point him to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Dives) in the Gospels, to show him exactly what happens to people who think only of pleasure (including the pleasure of food) in this life!

Let’s not go there. I can only give an opinion based on what I would know from the sources that are available to me. In this case, there was something available in a respected commentary, but still I did recommend further research into the situation of Australia. Though the material for the US is available and can be read easily, so I posted links.

I always strongly advise Catholics to follow their bishop in their own diocese. In this case, the bishop of Calgary and I are in no real opposition, if you carefully read my post. I was only pointing to the US, and in any case, the basic principle of doing penance is the important one on Fridays. The bishop of Calgary is quite correct in highlighting the traditional penitential practice as a usual one, and the US bishops do not conflict with that. There is no authentic difference between those two sources.

As a principle, Catholics should remember that our bishops possess governing, teaching and sanctifying power in the Church. Canon lawyers (whether accomplished or not, and I would not claim to be in any way) do not stand in the line of apostolic succession. Deacons are only servants in the Church. Catholic should only expect to hear from either group what the authentic teaching and/ or discipline of the Church is. All of us must always rely on the sources that come from papal and episcopal authority.

The code does apply to everyone. Canon 1250 says “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and time throughout the universal Church.” But do recall, canon 1251 also: “[size=2]Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” So that tells us we have to look to the different episcopal conferences to answer the question about Fridays outside of Good Friday and see what they have determined. The answers for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday seem to be pretty clear cut.[/size]

But I always have to ask, just because the law does not impose a particular burden on us in a situation, does that mean we cannot assume it voluntarily for ourselves out of love of God?

Cameron I always appreciate your input.

Have the USCCB given the green light to eat meat on fridays or not? It seems to me they require some act of penance and strongly encourage abstaing from meat.

This seems to be a murky issue here in the US.

Yes, but the bishops may, within the boundaries of the law, determine other suitable penitential requirements. In India, for example, the CBCI determined in Bangalore sometime in the 80’s that abstinence can be substituted by over 10 different things including works of charity, devotional exercises like the Stations or meditation on Scripture, almsgiving, fasting, or even stricter abstinence without foods that are generally allowed on abstinence days. Mine on the other hand imposes abstinence on Wednesdays.

I need something official to present to him. He won’t take my word for it. I’ll try the diocesan website.

Yes, please pray for him. When I converted, he was still lapsed. It wasn’t till we moved here to Australia that he came back to the Church but he is a Cafeteria Catholic and picks and chooses what he will accept. I would love to point something out to him, but he believes that because he is the ‘cradle’ Catholic that he knows better what the Church teaches than I. If it is something he disagrees with, he says the Church is out of line. He says that all that you have to do is go to Mass on Sunday and believe the points of Dogma and you’ll be alright. Every time I do point something out to him, no matter how gently, he gets his back up and I get the opposite effect to what I wanted. I must be doing it wrong.

So I try to keep my mouth shut and just pray for him and try to witness by my life. Slowly, slowly, he is coming round. It took 5 years of prayer and a very traumatic experience to get him back to Mass. I really don’t want that to be repeated but if it takes something bad happening in this life, it is better than going to hell in the next.

Well, I picked up a copy of our Archbishop’s Lenten address and it has a note in the fine print:

“To avoid confusion, only one Friday in Lent, Good Friday, is a day of abstinence from meat.”

So, I guess he was right and I was wrong. :blush:
What a relief.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit