From a reader:
According to the Ordo of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Easter Friday "is not a day of abstinence or penitential observance". Yet on their liturgical wall calendar, there is a fish symbol on April 17th, indicating a day of abstinence. Obviously an error crept in somewhere. Which is correct?
This is a bit after the fact, but my inclination is favor the strength of the Octave of Easter and say that on Friday of the Octave it would be okay not to abstain. That is, it would be okay to eat meat.
An Octave is a period when time is stops. We rest in the mystery of the great feast we celebrated, since one day simply isn’t enough. We are continuing Easter through all the days of the Octave. In the older rite we say Mass with the Gloria, Sequence and Creed. In the Novus Ordo we use the Gloria, and can use the Sequence, though we are not obliged to use the Creed. There are restrictions on votive Masses for the dead, etc. We say in the Te Deum in the office every day during the Octave.
Still, Fridays are penitential days appropriate for abstinence and we should always keep that in mind. Of course when a very important feast, a Solemnity in the newer calendar and a 1st class feast in the older, fall on a Friday our Friday penitential spirit is set aside. (BTW… that is 1st Class Feast, for other days are 1st Class, such as Good Friday in the mighty Triduum when we obviously bound to fast and abstain.)
A feast is a feast, after all!
I don’t think you sin if you maintain something of a penitential spirit, even when Friday is also a great feast or during the Octave. We have that same tension on Sundays in Lent, which is a penitential season. Every Sunday is an "Easter", but the season is penitential. What to do? Ignore our Lenten spirit? I don’t think so. We don’t have to rub gravel through our hair on a Lenten Sunday, but neither do I think we should simply ignore the season. Maybe a Santa Cristina will grace your Sunday dinner table rather than your habitual 1988 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino and you can have two courses instead of three. I exagerate, of course, to make a point.
I think that on some calendars issued by traditional groups, as mentioned above, you will find an indication for abstinence on Easter Friday. I think the calendar put out by the SSPX indicates "traditional abstinence" or such like.
All Catholics can make their own choices about what to eat and when, when to do penance and how, provided we do observe the law when we are truly bound by the law. The 1983 Code is in force now, not the 1917 Code.
All Catholics, even traditionalists, can with good conscience go by the indications of the present Code. The law must be interpreted so that people are favored and not overly restricted.
If people decide they want a more rigorous approach, that is fine. I applaud them. But let us not forget to allow feasts to be feasts. I think Easter Friday, within the mysterious Octave, is a feast.