No penance on Friday = grave sin?

Is not doing an extra penance in the US on Fridays a grave sin like not eating meat on Fridays during Lent?

I have never heard of requiring penance on Fridays. Could be wrong about that.

When we went to meatless Fridays, we were ‘supposed to’ substitute some other form of penance. Of course many folks have not done that… I’ve gone back to meatless fridays its a hole lot simpler than trying to think of different penances.

As far as mortal sin… look at the factors… is it serious or gravely immoral - I think not…
was it done deliberately and with forethought… maybe…

Did folks know in advance that what they were doing was seriously wrong, probably not
most folks don’t even realize that they are supposed to do some other penance…When it happened I was a lapsed Catholic, and I only heard about the no longer mandatory part of meatless Fridays, I never heard about the substitute penance until much later… goes to say “ignorance was bliss”.

I was once told by a priest, a mortal sin is akin to purposely spitting in the face of God… that we are in effect explicitly saying we want no more to do with God…from this criteria, I would say no its probably not a mortal sin…

I think I’m going to start fasting from something every Friday now. Thank you for the info. Out of curiosity, when did they stop requiring meatless Fridays outside of lent?

“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.” - Paenitemini, Paul VI (1966)

Easiest way to make sure you are in the clear? Just don’t eat meat on Fridays. That way you can look back at the end of the day and know that you performed your penance.

  1. Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year…

  2. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year.

  3. 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…

Willful disobedience to the Magisterium would be a mortal sin. The Will of God is that we obey those He has placed over us.

I shall assume, since I was ignorant of the nature of Fridays, that I have not sinned as such. I still think I will be bringing this up at my next confession. And as I said, I do resolve to abstain going forward.

That assumption would be correct. If you didn’t know, then how can it be willful?

I’m not sure what you mean by “extra” penance on all Fridays. A penance is required on all Fridays outside Lent. In some countries it is required to abstain from eating meat while in others any form of penance is required which would include abstaining as one of the choices.

In my opinion it is a sin of grave matter not to do any penance on Fridays and I base that on:


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.

The gravity applies to our intention to do penance, not to any singular act of penance*.

*The “substantial observance” of the penitential discipline of Fridays and Ash Wednesday, Pope Paul VI wrote, “binds gravely.” Interpreting this statement authoritatively, the Sacred Congregation of the Council (now the Congregation for the Clergy) decreed that this grave obligation does not refer to the individual days of penance, but to “the whole complexus of penitential days to be observed… that is, one sins gravely against the law, who, without an excusable cause, omits a notable part, quantitative or qualitative, of the penitential observance which is prescribed as a whole (February 24, 1967; reprinted in Canon Law Digest, vol. 6, pp. 684-85).

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