Is Friday penance mandatory in the US outside of lent?


#1

I’m confused about this: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=795978&highlight=friday+penance

I had thought the USCCB had made Friday penance, outside of lent, optional, but still strongly encouraged it? I read an article on catholic.com a while ago which said that. Has this been changed? Or was it never the case?


#2

I couldn’t access the link, but Friday penance is obligatory. This has always been the case. The only thing that has changed is that you are no longer required to abstain from meat on Fridays in the U.S.


#3

That’s weird though, because a couple years ago, I sent pms to several CAF apologists and they told me that it wasn’t mandatory. This was before Father Grondin was on staff though, so I had not asked him.


#4

They must be talking about abstaining from meat on Fridays outside of Lent. That is not mandatory. Penance however, is mandatory.

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

The USCCB has done exactly that. Abstaining is optional in the U.S. However, if you abstain from meat, you must find some other form of penance.


#5

Really? I thought Friday penance was optional outside of Lent.


#6

Nope. It’s required. :slight_smile:


#7

You must have misunderstood.

I just ran a search and located the earliest AAA responses on this topic and here are the links so you can read them for yourself.

[LIST]
*]Friday Penance May 17, '04
*]Specific penance to sub for Meatless Friday May 19, '04
*]Friday Penance Obligation Jun 17, '04
[/LIST]


#8

Here’s the article from the USCCB: USCCB on Penance and Abstinence ~ It says at part 25:

"25. 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.”

It seems that it’s no longer binding under pain of sin, so doesn’t that mean that it’s just highly encouraged now (at least here in the U.S.)?


#9

It’s referring to abstinence of meat, not the penance as a whole.

Here is a reference:
canonlawmadeeasy.com/2009/03/05/are-catholics-supposed-to-abstain-from-meat-every-friday/


#10

Suko, read the whole section regarding Friday:

Christ Died for Our Salvation on Friday

  1. Gratefully remembering this, Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:
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.
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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. Rather, let it be proved by the spirit in which we enter upon prayer and penance, not excluding fast and abstinence freely chosen, that these present decisions and recommendations of this conference of bishops will herald a new birth of loving faith and more profound penitential conversion, by both of which we become one with Christ, mature sons of God, and servants of God’s people.N.B. The effective date of these regulations is the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 1966.

#11

I think Jimmy Akin had written an article on this. Maybe that’s what you saw. I can try to find it.

Essentially the article stated that the USCCB directives seemed to be a compromise between groups with differing viewpoints because it removed the absolute requirement (under pain of sin) to do penance (abstinence or otherwise) but then turned around and stated that it wasn’t the USCCB’s intention that Catholics should stop practicing penance.

In other words, Friday penance is something the USCCB wants from American Catholics, it’s something American Catholics OUGHT to do, but it’s not something that American Catholics MUST do to avoid sinning.

More recent directives have come out which ask for abstinence to be practiced but as far as I know Friday penance is still an ought and not a must.


#12

H

Here are some articles by Jimmy. I don’t know where the first article fits chronologically in comparison to the second two articles.

catholic.com/quickquestions/outside-of-lent-do-we-have-to-do-anything-special-on-fridays

jimmyakin.org/2004/07/since_tomorrow_.html

jimmyakin.com/2004/07/more_on_friday_.html


#13

To anyone who is still having confusion about this topic: please read the entire quote posted by PaulfromIowa above! It gives you all the information you need!

I also want to say that Friday penance is required for the reason that penance on earth wipes away time from Purgatory, so it is very good and healthy for us Catholics to do!

Also, it is important to remember that penance is not required, and actually discouraged, when a solemnity falls on a Friday. The Fridays within the Octaves of Christmas and Easter are also treated as solemnities in terms of celebration. Therefore, penance is also discouraged from those days.

Finally, it should be known that, although honestly forgetting to do penance on a Friday is not sinful, doing so intentionally and out of spite is definitely a sin, because you are openly and unfortunately defying God.

Please, just do your penances, it does not take such a huge amount of effort to sacrifice something for Our Lord, Who sacrificed His Life for us.

May God bless you all!


#14

Technically, in the US, it’s not. As noted Canon Law (1253) gives the local Bishops’ Conference the authority to set the conditions of Penance

The US bishops in On Penance and Fasting, removed the obligation to abstain (which was, at the time, the only permitted form of Friday Penance)

What they replaced it with was rather nebulous

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;

Note that there is no actual obligation that the Bishops placed on the Faithful, only a 'we urge"

So, in effect, what the Bishops did was to remove the obligation to fast under pain of sin, and replace it with a REQUEST to engage in a self denial or mortification.


#15

Yep, that’s the way I’m interpreting it as well. The USCCB just didn’t use the right words to make it obligatory. Jimmy Akin wrote a great article on this in the 3rd link that SMHW provided a few posts above.

I still do the fasts or some form of penance every Friday anyway, and I would certainly highly encourage others to do so as well. :slight_smile:


#16

Sorry for this part of my post: I was a little mistaken! The Friday within the Octave of Easter is still celebrated in the Church as a solemnity, and therefore, penance is not required (and actually discouraged) on that day. However, the Friday within the Octave of Christmas is only a second-class feast, and therefore, the penance is still required!

I just wanted to clarify for everyone who read this post, as tomorrow is the Friday of which I speak of!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

-Ryan


#17

I hope you will be careful in the way you word this, Ryan. Penance is NOT required, although it is encouraged as a voliuntary practice. I sincerely believe that the entire octave of Christmas is a time for rejoicing and should not be penitential. Friday is the Feast of St. John, the Apostle, but note that the Church prays evening prayer in LoTH from the Feast of Christmas, celebrated as a Solemnity.

[Read Brendan’s post just a few behind yours for an accurate understanding regarding Friday penance.]


#18

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