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February 9, 2010


This was originally written 2/27/09. However I thought it was fitting to re-post it because:
  1. I have many new followers now, many of them Catholic-Christians like myself
  2. It's almost Lent!
The Original Post IS Below:

On what Fridays throughout the year are we suppose to do penance? I'll give you a hint by giving you an example of a penance that is done on Fridays: abstaining from meat. So on what Fridays throughout the year are we suppose to do penance?

If you answered EVERY Friday then you are correct!!! Congratulations for knowing the this bit of Canon Law and knowing about your Catholic Faith! Here is that bit of Canon Law strait from the Vatican's Web-Site.
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.
Can 1250 clearly states that EVERY Friday of the WHOLE year are penitential days. So that means EVERY Friday we are do a from of penance. Can 1251 states that the from of penance to be observe is abstinence from meat on ALL Fridays. However according to Can 1253 the conference of bishops can offer their people a substitute such as a work of charity.

Here in the USA a big deal is made out of Lenten Fridays and how it's a "meatless" day. Well ALL Fridays should be "meatless" days UNLESS you do an alternative penance. You see here in the USA we have a choice on NON-Lenten Fridays to an alternative penance. So just because it's NOT Lent doesn't mean we can dive into that big juicy hamburger on that Friday cook-out! Enjoy that burger as long as you fulfilled your penance that day by some kind of alternative penance such as a work of charity.

I've been reading my emails (that is the one thing that I did NOT give up). I've been reading a lot from my fellow Catholics today on how today is a meatless meal, etc and I felt compel to write and share here with ALL of you vs. a reply to only those that have email me today.

I think our Bishops have done us a disservice by making a HUGE deal on how it's Lent and it means ~no meat~. Many don't realize that ALL Fridays, not just Lenten Fridays are days of penance. This is just a result of mis-communication throughout the years. The USA Bishops did NOT do way with penance when they said many years ago that a Catholic MAY enjoy a hamburger on non-Lenten Friday. Being able to eat meat on Non-Lenten Fridays is only HALF the story. The other HALF is that a forms of penance has been widen giving people CHOICES!

In other words a Catholic, here in the USA, has an either-or-and-choice on non-Lenten Fridays. The choices on Non-Lenten Fridays are as follows.
  • abstinence from meat
  • work of charity
  • exercise of piety
  • OR ALL the above
On Lenten Fridays there is NO choice a FULL penance is to be done. There is NO choice ALL of these things are to be done:
  • perform works of piety and charity
  • prayer
  • abstinence from meat
  • and FAST on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
This is something that we in my house struggle with, because I did NOT grow up with this knowledge and my DH is an convert to Catholicism. However knowing it I think helps us, because we are trying!! This is something I myself just learn within the last year. It is something that has been reinforced by our Diocesan Education Office.

Well I have to go, I just wanted to share this tid-bit about Penance and Fridays. I felt it was important especially seeing this is the first Friday of Lent!!! I have to say this staying off the PC (with the exception emails) has been a little hard then I thought it would be! I just have to try a little harder! I hope that you are doing well with your penances and sacrifices this week and continue to do well ALL of Lent!

Related Posts:
Lenten Pretzels (At the end of the post Judy @ Benmakesten has a lovely suggestion for abstaining from meat during Lent.)


  1. I am always asking my DH questions about the Catholic faith and he doesn't always have an answer for me. This was very informative, thanks! Hope to see you over at THL soon. :)

  2. Although I SURE MISS YOU...I encourage you to STAY STRONG in your beautiful Sacrifice...
    and THANK YOU for sharing your writings on penance for Fridays...we were JUST discussing this very thing in our house yesterday!!! We have always taught our kids that Fridays are a "penance" day in the Church...and more recently, we have decided to abstain from meat on ALL Fridays like both dh and I did growing up!
    Thanks for reiterating our thoughts and validating what's in our heart!

  3. I didn't catch it the first time around...but I think perhaps you mean "exercise of PIETY", not "pity".

    Anyway, benmakesten's post today fits VERY NICELY with this!

  4. LOL!! You think?? Perhaps right? LOL Well thanks for catching my year old spelling mistake! LOL I re-read the post twice today and even I didn't catch it! LOL Love Ya!

  5. Judy- I've updated my post I've corrected the spelling mistake and I've added a link to your post because you're right it ties in nicely :)


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