Legal obligation to do penance on Friday?

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=672696&page=2

Roman Ordo says Abstinence on All Fridays

In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that “the age of fasting is from the completion of the eighteenth year to the beginning of the sixtieth.” The USCCB also allows the substitution of some other form of penance for abstinence on all of the Fridays of the year, except for those Fridays in Lent. Thus, the rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States are:

Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent.

Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.

Abstaining from meat is the easiest form of penance for most people, as you can see the rules did not change, unless you do some form of sincere penance you ARE to abstain from meat.

Just a thought.

I’m a Chiefs fan, that’s enough penance for anyone :stuck_out_tongue:

Agree. And the Bishops in the US are encouraging us to abstain as part of the Year of Faith and a call to pray for life, marriage, and religious liberty.

1.Starting with the Sunday after Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on or near the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November 2013, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

2.Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the nation.

3.At Sunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include specific intentions for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad.

**4.Abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays are encouraged for the intention of the protection of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the Church. **

5.The celebration of a second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 is being planned. This Fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services.

usccb.org/news/2012/12-212.cfm

That is more than enought, in fact, you may be overdoing it a bit.

It seems to me, way back in our american history, the president sometimes called for special prayer and fasting.

Good post.

I dont know whether it is an obligation, but I find it is beautiful to abstain from meat on all the fridays of the year. It helps me a lot in my spiritual life. It creats a spirit of sacrifice in me. As a member of Syro Malabar rite, I have been practising it even before reaching age of reason(because my family observes it). I recommend such traditional practices of the Church for finding meaning in our lives.

The Bishops Conference can decide what penance may be done but they cannot dispense with the obligation.

Canon Law:

Can. 1249 All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

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. 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 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.

You have my sympathy. I suffered for many years as a Bungles, er, I mean Bengals fan.:smiley:

On a serious note, I know that we are required to do some form of penance and I usually do fabstain from eating meat, something that is easy to remember. It seems I never crave a hamburger except on a Friday. However, if we are invited to someone’s home for a meal, I don’t make a big deal about my abstinence but do another form of penance in place of abstaining from meat, such as keeping silence (very difficult for me) or performing some task that I absolutely abhor. Anything that reminds me of Our Lord’s suffering and death for us.

Alright, before this turns into another clustercuss of legalistic minutiae, let me throw out a few links.

Here is a recent thread on this exact topic.

Here is faithful Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin’s analysis of the current state of US law on Friday penance, in which he argues that Catholics in the United States are not bound under pain of sin to do penance on Fridays. Here he discusses the argument further.

Here is where the traditionalist blogger Fr. Z recently said the same thing.

And for good measure, here is a thing on EWTN from a priest who says the same thing.

These links should be sufficient to show that there is a legitimate debate among faithful Catholics over whether Catholics in the United States are bound under pain of sin to do penance on Fridays.


Now, to the specifics of this thread.

Roman Ordo says Abstinence on All Fridays

In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that “the age of fasting is from the completion of the eighteenth year to the beginning of the sixtieth.” The USCCB also allows the substitution of some other form of penance for abstinence on all of the Fridays of the year, except for those Fridays in Lent. Thus, the rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States are:

Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent.

Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.

Abstaining from meat is the easiest form of penance for most people, as you can see the rules did not change, unless you do some form of sincere penance you ARE to abstain from meat.

Just a thought.

Fred conty, I’m not clear on what exact document you’re quoting. Is there a link to the original document?

The Bishops Conference can decide what penance may be done but they cannot dispense with the obligation.

Canon Law:

Can. 1249 All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

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. 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 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.

As far as I can tell, you are mistaken here. As is clear from context, when Can. 1249 talks about our obligation to do penance under the divine law, it is talking about how everyone must do penance at some time in some form because we are all sinners; it is not talking specifically about the discipline of Friday penance. That is why it says “each in his or her own way,” and then goes on to say “However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed.”

Second, the Code of Canon Law of 1983 does give bishops conferences the authority to dispense with the obligation, under pain of sin, to do penance on every Friday of the year. That comes in Can. 1253, which gives bishops conferences two separate powers: the power to substitute other forms of penance for abstinence, and also the power to " determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence." If the latter power were simply the same as the former power, then they would simply have stated a single power and not two. As Jimmy Akin says, the power to “determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence” allows a bishops conference to, for example, limit the binding law of penance only to Ash Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent.

Whether the USCCB has, in fact, done that is the question at hand.

Fred conty, I’m not clear on what exact document you’re quoting. Is there a link to the original document?

RE: The original post, I’ve poked around the thread the OP linked to and the Rorate Caeli post which that thread was about, and I think I’m finally clear.

Here’s the Rorate Caeli post.

Now, as far as I can tell, the so-called new Roman Ordo is actually a disciplinary document from the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which is the commission which now handles all things relating to the extraordinary form of the Mass. The document lays out the divine office and Mass to be celebrated on each day of the year if you’re following the traditional rite, so to speak.

It mentions that, in accord with the Code of Canon Law of 1983, if you’re following the traditional rite in your penance practices, that means abstinence on all Fridays of the year except solemnities. This is, in fact, the basic law for the Latin Church, for all Latin Church Catholics, and it’s what you have to do unless your bishops’ conference or bishop has changed things.

Now, the actual text of the original post: that is not from the Ecclesia Dei Ordo. That is just a copy/paste of something another CAF poster wrote on the other thread. As far as I can tell, it is nothing more than that other poster’s opinion. It is not from Ecclesia Dei, or Rome, or anything. All the Ordo does is declare that the universal law in the Church is abstinence on all Fridays, which is already perfectly clear from the Canons.

In addition to Transformer’s three links that I posted in the other thread, please remember that I also had advice in the confessional from my priest that the obligation to do penance, while it is encouraged, is not a sin if one does not specifically perform a substitute penance for eating meat.

Let me add two other references from our CAF Apologists, who are writing for the wide audience of Catholic faithful who frequent this forum. One would expect, therefore, that their advice would be well documented to avoid giving scandal and misinformation.

Devon Caffron refers specifically to Jimmy Akin’s article in This Rock.
[size=2]forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=9497369highlight=friday+penance#post9497369

Michele Arnold requotes the Bishops’ Statement, saying:
EVEN THOUGH WE HEREBY TERMINATE THE TRADITIONAL LAW OF ABSTINENCE AS 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".
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=58&highlight=fast+abstinence

[size=2]I suppose if I took time, I might find additional posts in AAA, but the sense is that there is no binding under pain of sin, but voluntary penance is encouraged[/size].

Following further the posts from Canon Law, I note this one in particular:

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 word “can” may refer to places like England where Friday abstinence has been reinstated by their Episcopal Conference. That is not the case for the USA, or perhaps other countries. In our nation, the bishops did not substitute “in whole or in part” any other form of penance, making it obligatory under pain of sin. It would have been spelled out as such, rather than just to encourage us to voluntarily abstain from “flesh meat.”[/size]

Anyone can find something somewhere that will justify their opinion.

I said it before and I will say it again, only the USCCB has the authority to interpret its document. It is up to them to clarify what they intended. Everybody else’s opinion, as to the USCCB’s intent, is irrelevant.

If you want to know what to do, then pray and search your heart.

As for me, I abstain on Wednesdays and Fridays and on other days, if I feel the need.

I said it before and I will say it again, only the USCCB has the authority to interpret its document. It is up to them to clarify what they intended. Everybody else’s opinion, as to the USCCB’s intent, is irrelevant.

I agree completely. That is why I think Canon 14 kicks in, which says that “Laws, even invalidating and disqualifying ones, do not oblige when there is a doubt about the law.” If the governing USCCB document is ambiguous as to whether an obligation to do some other penance is imposed in place of the abstinence obligation (because the bishops have failed to clarify), the presumption is on the side of nonobligation, according to Canon 14.

If you want to know what to do, then pray and search your heart.

Exactly. The fact that due to ambiguity there is no law binding under pain of sin on United Catholics does not mean that Catholics are not called by God to do penance on Fridays. They almost certainly are, especially as even under the laxest reading Friday penance is still highly encouraged.

Is it ambiguous or is it your understanding of the document that makes it ambiguous? Is it possible that some things are assumed and, therefore, not specifically addressed? All of this ‘it has to be written exactly this way or that way’, reminds me of those who say “where is it written in the bible”. I’m seeing way to much of this in Catholics today. :frowning:

My irrelevant opinion.

Is it ambiguous or is it your understanding of the document that makes it ambiguous? Is it possible that some things are assumed and, therefore, not specifically addressed? All of this ‘it has to be written exactly this way or that way’, reminds me of those who say “where is it written in the bible”. I’m seeing way to much of this in Catholics today.

I’m not sure “is it ambiguous or is it your understanding of the document that makes it ambiguous?” is a meaningful question; ambiguity is a matter of understanding. The question is whether my uncertainty is reasonable. I could argue directly that it is reasonable, but Jimmy Akin’s already done that. So I’ll just say that if I, Jimmy, the conservative canon lawyers Jimmy says agree with him, Devon Caffron, Fr. Z, and that priest who wrote for ETWN all think the USCCB document abolishes the abstinence obligation without substituting an obligation of other penance in its place, I think my understanding that the document is at least ambiguous is reasonable.

Anyway, once again you’re placing the presumption on the side of binding obligation for some reason, when canon 14 clearly places the presumption on the side of nonobligation. You accuse me of saying “it has to be written exactly this way or that way,” but I could just as easily accuse the other side of doing the same thing, insisting that we should assume a penance obligation is imposed in place of the abolished abstinence obligation unless there is a crystal clear statement to the contrary. The point is that there is no crystal clear language; the document is not written how any of us would prefer it be written (i.e., unambiguously). And in the absence of clarity, the obligation cannot bind.

The legalistic nature of this debate favors the side of nonobligation, not the side of obligation. If there’s a legitimate, nitpicky, (perhaps even) Pharisaic debate over a certain obligation, with faithful people on both sides, would you really tell your average Catholic on the street that he is bound under pain of mortal sin by that obligation?

As you say, it’s possible that the bishops were just assuming that there was a penance obligation that would remain in force even if the abstinence obligation were established. But as long as that is genuinely unclear, the obligation cannot bind.

I see obligation where you see ambiguity and, therefore, no obligation. I can live with that. But just so I understand, please tell me how this is ambiguous to you.

  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.

old.usccb.org/lent/2008/Penance_and_Abstinence.pdf

No problem there JM3, but where does it say one will commit a mortal or venial sin if penance is not done? That’s the crux of the matter. It doesn’t … not anywhere in the entire document. You have not proved your point. Please review the summary paragraph:

[LEFT]28. 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.[/LEFT]

[LEFT]Still no hint of binding obligation, but rather encouraging a “need for penance” freely chosen. You persist in reading more into the statement than there really is in actuality. [/LEFT]

[LEFT]Let’s assume an uninformed priest in any diocese calls the bishop for clarification and is told there is no sin … let’s inlcude Fr. Z and my priest, as well. Do you believe they were all told by diocesan bishops that they must tell their flock they commit sin? Are you a priest? Have you called the bishop to learn the truth of this? If not, it’s best to hold your tongue here, for you are doing a huge disservice to the members who read your words.

Finally, will you kindly tell us what kind of sin it is? Shouldn’t the statement qualify whether it is “grievous matter” that must be present for commission of mortal sin? The other condition of “full knowledge” must also be present for one to commit sin. Is this true here?[/LEFT]

JM3–

As Jimmy points out, the USCCB document repeatedly uses the language of exhortation in reference to Friday penance, which would make no sense if they intended Friday penance to be an obligation binding under pain of sin.

  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.

Art. 22 says that Friday remains a day of penance, but it does not specify exactly how or impose a specific binding obligation in place of the abolished abstinence obligation.

Art. 23 clarifies exactly how Friday remains a day of penance: we are strongly urged to freely make of it a day of penance.

Strawman.

Why does an obligation have to be “binding under pain of sin” to remain an obligation? I think this is the argument that is being sidestepped.

Suppose your boss tells you that he wants something done a certain way, but does not give a penalty for it not being done that way. What do you do? Are you obliged to do it as your boss asked or do you disregard what he says, because you know you will not be fired?

When did “urge” get downgraded? I must have missed that meeting. :wink:

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