friday penance

it’s my understanding that we sitll have to do some form of penance on fridays even outside of Lent but it doens’t necessarily have to be abstinance from meat/ is that correct?

my questions is, once you pick something else, do you have ot keep doing the same thing? or can you change it up once in a while? because after a while, if you get used to it, it’s not so hard anymore and becomes less of a sacrifice.

sorry if this is in the wrong section

There is no obligation to do the same penance on any given Friday. You can do whatever you choose to do on that day.

Does everybody have to do something every single Friday all year?

It depends on the decision of your Conference of Bishops.

For example if you live in England and Wales, I believe the instructions at catholicnews.org.uk/Home/News/2011/Catholic-Witness-Friday-Penance/(language)/eng-GB apply. It includes: “… Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 …”

vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19660217_paenitemini_en.html

Therefore, the following is declared and established:

I. 1. By divine law all the faithful are required to do penance.

  1. The prescriptions of ecclesiastical law regarding penitence are totally reorganized according to the following norms:

II. 1. The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely.

  1. Apart from the faculties referred to in VI and VIII regarding the manner of fulfilling the precept of penitence on such days, abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation, while abstinence and fast is to be observed on Ash Wednesday or, according to the various practices of the rites, on the first day of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent) and on Good Friday.

In that Apostolic Constitution are given the reasons for the change, which are helpful to understand. Asceticism and charity are preferred where there is more economic well-being, and promotion of social justice, and prayer elsewhere.
[LIST]
*]Therefore, where economic well-being is greater, so much more will the witness of asceticism have to be given in order that the sons of the Church may not be involved in the spirit of the “world,”(61) and at the same time the **witness of charity **will have to be given to the brethren who suffer poverty and hunger beyond any barrier of nation or continent.(62)
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[LIST]
*]On the other hand, in countries where the standard of living is lower, it will be more pleasing to God the Father and more useful to the members of the Body of Christ if Christians—while they seek in every way to ** promote better social justic**e—offer their suffering in prayer to the Lord in close union with the Cross of Christ.
[/LIST]

[LIST]
*]Therefore, the Church, while preserving—where it can be more readily observed—the custom (observed for many centuries with canonical norms) of practicing penitence also through abstinence from meat and fasting, intends to ratify with its prescriptions other forms of penitence as well, provided that it seems opportune to episcopal conferences to replace the observance of fast and abstinence with exercises of prayer and works of charity.
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Agreed. What the Apostolic Constitution does not do is give episcopal conferences the authority to abolish the obligation of Friday penance.

Yes. The Friday penance is a universal obligation.

The bishop’s conference for each region can define what form that penance might take. By default, the penance is to abstain from meat.

In the US, the bishops (with Rome’s approval) have decided that the form the penance takes is entirely up to the individual person.

Since your location is the U.K. see the information that others have recently posted.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM

That’s a good source, however, it was written before the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The Code does change what Pope Paul VI wrote because since 1983, the bishops conferences have more flexibility in determining the precise form of the penance. They can now do that on their own authority (canon 1251).

It’s a slight change, but one worth noting.

True. But remember that the 1983 codex modifies whatever came before–including that Constitution.

That means we have to look at the current law.
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. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

While the conference cannot abolish the obligation of Friday Penance (something which they never did in the U.S.) they can determine it more precisely; which is what they did do by allowing to stand a 1960s decree that the individual person can substitute other forms of penance instead of no-meat.

Same conclusion, but we need to understand which law applies. In this case, it’s the 1983 Code, not the Apostolic Constitution.

It appears to me that the Code of Canon Law is based on the Apostolic Constitution.

I. 1. By divine law all the faithful are required to do penance.

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance…

II. 1. The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

  1. Apart from the faculties referred to in VI and VIII regarding the manner of fulfilling the precept of penitence on such days, abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation, while abstinence and fast is to be observed on Ash Wednesday or, according to the various practices of the rites, on the first day of “Grande Quaresima” (Great Lent) and on Good Friday.

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. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

IV. To the law of abstinence those are bound who have completed their 14th year of age. To the law of fast those of the faithful are bound who have completed their 21st year and up until the beginning of their 60th year.

As regards those of a lesser age, pastors of souls and parents should see to it with particular care that they are educated to a true sense of penitence.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

VI. 1. In accordance with the conciliar decree Christus Dominus regarding the pastoral office of bishops, number 38,4, it is the task of episcopal conferences to:

A. Transfer for just cause the days of penitence, always taking into account the Lenten season;

B. Substitute abstinence and fast wholly or in part with other forms of penitence and especially works of charity and the exercises of piety.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Sometimes, it’s nice to know where the law comes from. For those of us with nothing better to do. :smiley:

I wouldn’t doubt it. In fact, I would bet that it was.

After all, one of the reasons why the 1983 revision was necessary was because of documents like that particular Constitution which altered the application of the 1917 codex.

The whole idea was to write a new code to reflect such changes; instead of having to sort through piles of documents of changes, indults, motu proprios, Apostolic Constitutions, etc. etc.

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