Is there an obligation to abstain from something on Friday?


#1

I have heard (or thought I heard) that there is an obligation to abstain from something on Friday. Today, it doesn’t have to be meat, but supposably, it has to be something, anything you want. Is this true? If yes, why don’t people talk about that more?
SORRY FOR BAD ENGLISH!


#2

Canon law says that Catholics are to abstain from meat on Fridays unless their episcopal conference says something different. So whether abstaining from meat is optional or not depends on what country you’re in. In the US, abstaining from meat on Fridays is an option; in other countries it may be mandatory. What country do you live in?


#3

In the U.S. there is an obligation to do something as an alternative to abstaining from meat.

If not abstaining from meat, you must do something else, some other form of penance or act of charity as a substitute.


#4

Whether there is an “obligation” or one “must” do something else is somewhat open to interpretation.

Read this document from the US bishops: Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence which spells things out.

Paragraphs 22-23 are especially apt:

  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.

  2. 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.

Some form of penance is certainly encouraged, but does not seem to be required.

Personally, I abstain from meat on Fridays. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder to me of what happened on Good Friday. But it’s not our place to impose something on others that the Church does not impose.


#5

That’s interesting. I’ll have to look more into it. I think I got my information from one of the Canons, but I forget which number it was.


#6

Judging by this EWTN answer from a priest, I think your’re right. (I sort of skimmed, owing to my ADD) but it looks like it’s not an obligation under pain of sin, unless I missed it when I was reading.

Quoting from the same U.S. Bishop’s Conference document, I believe:

**“Every Catholic Christian understand 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.”
**

ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=443945&Pg=&Pgnu=&recnu=


#7

Here are the canons. I have bolded a few lines.

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

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

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.

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.

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.

source]


#8

Or, with alternative bolding:

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.

:twocents:
Just sayin’,
tee
Who Is Not A Canon Lawyer
But Admits A Fondness For Picking Cherries


#9

I get your point; however, I’m not sure that completely dispensing with the Friday abstinence requirement can really be considered a “more precise observance of fast and abstinence”. I would call it a nullification of the requirement.


#10

He is only stating there is no obligation under pain of sin to abstain from meat because in the past that was the only penance for Fridays outside Lent but we are permitted to choose our penance now. He is not saying the obligation under pain of sin to perform a Friday penance is lifted.
For example, if I choose to perform charitable works instead of abstaining from meat it would not make sense for me to still be bound under pain of sin for not eating meat.


#11

Thistle, since you’re not in the US this doesn’t apply to you. The US bishops have said they “urge” people to observe some sort of penance on Friday but to me, that sounds far from being mandatory. Obligations in other countries governed by other bishops are different.


#12

Read again that statement from the US Bishops Conference. It is not saying the obligation under pain of sin is lifted for Friday penance. It is only about eating meat which makes sense now a penance can be chosen and not eating meat is not the sole penance.


#13

I guess I’m missing the “mandatory” part in regards to penance. I see things like “we urge” but nothing about “must” or “mandatory.” Which paragraph are you referring to?


#14

CIC (Latin Canon Law)
CHAPTER II.
Days of Penance
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

USCCB states that *Paenitemini *of 1966 still holds:[FONT=Times New Roman][size=3][LEFT]Therefore, the following is declared and established:

[/LEFT]
[LEFT]I.
[/LEFT]
[/size][/FONT][INDENT][FONT=Times New Roman][size=3][LEFT]1. By divine law all the faithful are required to do penance.[/LEFT]
[/size][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman][size=3][LEFT]2. The prescriptions of ecclesiastical law regarding penitence are totally reorganized according to the following norms:[/LEFT]
[/size][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman][size=3][LEFT]
[/LEFT]
II.
[/size][/FONT]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.
2. 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.
[/INDENT]


#15

We were talking about the US Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, not canon law (since canon 1253 gives the bishops discretion).


#16

It gives them the discretion to change the form of penance but they cannot dispense the divine obligation for penance to be performed.


#17

*On Penance and Abstinence (the pastoral statement called the norms of **November 18, 1966) *shows that Friday traditional law is no longer the only prescribed means of observing Friday:
“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”

usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/us-bishops-pastoral-statement-on-penance-and-abstinence.cfm

The USCB norms have:
**Canon 1253 - Observance of Fast and Abstinence **

                           **Complementary Norm:** Norms II and IV of *Paenitemini*  (February 17, 1966) are almost identical to the canons cited. The  November 18, 1966 norms of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops  on penitential observance for the Liturgical Year continue in force  since they are law and are not contrary to the Code (canon 6).

Approved: Administrative Committee, September 1983

Promulgated: Memorandum to All Bishops, October 21, 1983

Amended: “… the age of fasting is from the completion of the twenty-first year to the beginning of the sixtieth” (Paenitemini, norm IV) is amended to read “‘… the age of fasting is from the completion of the eighteenth year to the beginning of the sixtieth’ in accord with canon 97.”

Promulgated: Memorandum to All Diocesan Bishops, February 29, 1984

(See On Penance and Abstinence, Pastoral Statement of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 18, 1966)


#18

CIC (-]Latin Canon Law/-] Codex Iuris Canonici, in English: Canon Law)
CHAPTER II.
Days of Penance
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance


each in his or her own way

. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

If the bishops, with the approval of the Apostolic See, have not prescribed specific ways to manifest the act of penance, may an individual not, for instance, hold in his heart a spirit of penance without otherwise performing a penitential act?

tee


#19

I live in Croatia. Is prayer some kind of an abstinence?


#20

Penitence is prayer, fasting, and charity. In some places, prayer and social justice are preferred over asceticism and charity.

Pope Paul VI in Paenitemini, 1966 wrote:
In the first place, Holy Mother Church, although it has always observed in a special way abstinence from meat and fasting, nevertheless wants to indicate in the traditional triad of “prayer—fasting—charity” the fundamental means of complying with the divine precepts of penitence. These means were the same throughout the centuries, but in our time there are special reasons whereby, according to the demands of various localities, it is necessary to inculcate some special form of penitence in preference to others.(60) 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) 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 justice—offer their suffering in prayer to the Lord in close union with the Cross of Christ.

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


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