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March 06, 2005



But what we have gotten away from in general is SACRIFICE. Since we abandoned the teaching on sacrifice, we now have parishes that view the Mass as not the renewal of Calvary in an unbloody manner but as a "community-centered" product. Some parishes have replaced Crucifixes with a Risen Christ cross, although in some parishes this abuse is being corrected. But in general it seems we are still trying to take Jesus down from the Cross and demand that He go directly to Easter Sunday while ignoring the salvific action of Christ on Good Friday! Sacrifice has become a dirty word in modern times. My point? "Changing" the Friday abstinence discipline is linked to the abandonment by some when it comes to sacrifice.

The following is an interesting piece from New Advent.org...

Abstinence, (1) Friday:

From the dawn of Christianity, Friday has been signalized as an abstinence day, in order to do homage to the memory of Christ suffering and dying on that day of the week. The "Teaching of the Apostles" (viii), Clement of Alexandria (Strom., VI, 75), and Tertullian (De jejun., xiv) make explicit mention of this practice. Pope Nicholas I (858-867) declares that abstinence from flesh meat is enjoined on Fridays. There is every reason to conjecture that Innocent III (1198-1216) had the existence of this law in mind when he said that this obligation is suppressed as often as Christmas Day falls on Friday (De observ. jejunii, ult. cap. Ap. Layman, Theologia Moralis, I, iv, tract. viii, ii). Moreover, the way in which the custom of abstaining on Saturday originated in the Roman Church is a striking evidence of the early institution of Friday as an abstinence day.

And here is an article from Catholic-Pages:

Meat on Fridays...

Most Catholics think that Vatican II did away with the requirement of not eating meat on any Friday of the year. Most think it is now just Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent that we cannot eat meat.

This is what the new Code of Canon Law brought out in 1983 says about the matter:

Canon 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.
Canon Law still requires that Catholics not eat meat on Fridays!

Of course, most Episcopal Conferences have determined that, instead of abstaining from meat, Catholics may perform an act of penance of their choosing. But, do you ever remember to abstain from a particular food or do some other penance on Fridays? And, at any rate, the main rule is still to abstain from meat on Fridays, the performance of another penance instead is an optional alternative.

It's very interesting to note that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the United States' Episcopal Conference) is currently debating whether to rescind the determination and require all Catholics to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. The Bishops are considering that a return to meatless Fridays for all Catholics would be of benefit because:

It is an expression of one's Catholicity; and
In reparation for the grave sin of abortion.

Eric Giunta


Which countries still have binding abstinence laws on ALL Fridays of the year? I know Catholics from several different countries, and I've never heard of this still existing (despite what canon law says is the norm). In which countries is still binding under pain of sin?

Eric Giunta


So there are still countries where the abstinence laws are binding, under pain of sin, on all Fridys of the year?

Can you name one?

Just curious.


Jimmy Akin

I don't have a specific country in mind, but I'm told that this is the case in some of the eastern European countries.

In some countries, it's even less than it is in America. I was reading Canon Law Digest the other day and came across a document from the Irish bishops some years ago laboriously apologizing for the fact that abstinence was no longer required in Ireland except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, IIRC.


In Poland the canon on Friday abstinence was http://www.opoka.org.pl/biblioteka/W/WE/kep/list_5p_21102003.html>reiterated in 2003. The Bishops also imposed the additional requirement of abstinence on Holy Saturday, including the Vigil (Wigilia) meal - much to some people's, er, dismay.

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