ASK FATHER: Does the Thanksgiving Friday Indult apply to deployed US military?

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

I’ll be deployed overseas this Thanksgiving Friday. I belong to a personal parish (FSSP) in a regular geographic diocese back home, but deployed I fall under the Archdiocese of Military ervices. Does the Pope Pius XII Thanksgiving Friday indult apply to me, despite my not being in the United States?

Military service personnel are subject to the Military Archdiocese and, therefore, are subject to the laws of These United States. However, the mythical indult of Pius XII, which has never been seen, would no longer apply because of the reordering of the laws on fast and abstinence in 1966.

Under the law in force, Catholics in These United States and our military bases around the world are obliged to either abstain or do some other form of penance on all Fridays of the year, unless the Friday is a Solemnity.

We must choose abstinence on the Friday’s of Lent. The bishop could dispense this for a just cause.

And so, on Friday you can choose to substitute some other hopefully meaningful penance.

Please share!

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32 Responses to ASK FATHER: Does the Thanksgiving Friday Indult apply to deployed US military?

  1. jhayes says:

    The USCCB statement is not very clear. It is clear in stating that Friday abstinence is no longer binding under pain of sin:

    we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation traditionally binding under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that “no”scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience,confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

    But it only “urges” that people perform some voluntarily chosen act of penance on Fridays, without saying that that is an obligation binding under pain of sin

    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.

    HERE

    Does anyone know of another USCCB statement clarifying that a person sins if he does not perform some act of penance each Friday – and whether the sin is mortal or venial.

  2. msc says:

    Could you please give some examples of what you would consider a meaningful penance?

  3. jhayes says:

    Msc, the USCCB statement I mentioned above suggested these altenatives:

    26. Perhaps we should warn those who decide to keep the Friday abstinence for reasons of personal piety and special love that they must not pass judgment on those who elect to substitute other penitential observances. Friday, please God,will acquire among us other forms of penitential witness which may become as much a part of the devout way of life in the future as Friday abstinence from meat. In this connection we have foremost in mind the modern need for self-discipline in the use of stimulants and for a renewed emphasis on the virtue of temperance, especially in the use of alcoholic beverages.

    27. It would bring great glory to God and good to souls if Fridays found our people doing volunteer work in hospitals, visiting the sick, serving the needs of the aged and the lonely, instructing the young in the Faith, participating as Christians in community affairs, and meeting our obligations to our families, our friends,our neighbors, and our community, including our parishes, with a special zeal born of the desire to add the merit of penance to the other virtues exercised in good works born of living faith.

  4. Tom A. says:

    I cant think of a better one than abstaining from meat.

  5. Tony Phillips says:

    And what about ex-pats who live in England, where the bishops have supposedly* re-instated Friday abstinence year-round? Can we eat turkey on Friday, or do we have to watch it go off and chuck it in the bin?
    * I say supposedly because no one in the pews actually seems to know about this. Our parish priest mentioned it with some embarassment when it came out a few years ago, and it hasn’t been mentioned since. And to be honest, there was definitely something of the ‘horse is already out of the barn’ about this reversion.

  6. APX says:

    Could you please give some examples of what you would consider a meaningful penance?

    -Devoutly doing the Stations of the Cross
    -Saying an extra Rosary
    -Fasting
    -Substituting abstinence from something else such as the Internet
    -Reciting/chanting the 7 Penitential Psalms
    -Listening to a beginner try to play bagpipes for an extended period of time without making involuntary facial expressions of pain and torment…

  7. ASPM Sem says:

    A good one for college students or anyone else who drinks regularly on Fridays is no booze.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    I always thought praying the Stations of the Cross would be a good thing to do on Fridays. If I eat meat on a Friday, I try to drink only water for the entire day as far as beverages go. For me, it is a penance!

  9. Poor Yorek says:

    Could you please give some examples of what you would consider a meaningful penance?

    Spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament (and maybe offer at least one decade of a Rosary for the hungry) rather than:

    (i) one’s usual round of golf (or other recreational activity);
    (ii) watching a {fill-in-the-blank} game or favorite TV show;
    or
    (iii) make the Holy Hour early so that one has to get up at an unusual time.

    I like Geoffrey’s idea also. Our family makes every Friday abstemious from meat, but I like the water-only notion: might add that for Friday’s in Lent/Advent as an additional feature. Thanks!

  10. un-ionized says:

    Geoffrey, I love Fr. Hardon’s stations of the cross from the Fr. Hardon prayer book. I feel very small with them!

  11. bombcar says:

    This is the binding document for the United States.

  12. Nan says:

    @msc, meaningful penance is going to vary with the person. Tom said that he can’t think of a more meaningful penance than not eating meat; I’m not a big meat eater so I abstain on Fridays because I’m supposed to do so. It’s meaningful as obedience, not because it’s any kind of hardship for me not to eat meat. When my sister was dying I needed my strength as I spent some long days in the hospital with her before her release to hospice care and there were other related stress factors. I ate meat whenever I wanted to for 3 mos, giving myself a couple of extra weeks after her funeral before returning to my regular schedule; her diagnosis and death were about 3 mos apart.

    My Lenten practice includes things that most people wouldn’t consider to be penance; I have Lent completely backwards. Fish sticks and McDonald’s fish sandwiches were a rare treat for me; therefore, one of my deprivations is that I don’t eat Filet-o-Fish on Friday during Lent. Don’t criticize me for eating salmon; it’s penitential in that I want my exotic Lenten treat instead. I also tend to migrate to the priest’s line for communion and don’t do so during Lent.

  13. Cafea Fruor says:

    I typically eat vegetarian, so meatless Fridays are really not much different for me than any other day, so I find other penances to make Fridays actually penitential. Some I’ve done in the past are: drinking my coffee black instead of with cream (more penitential than just skipping the coffee altogether), not putting in headphones at the office to drown out an obnoxious coworker like I usually do, not going out for dinner with friends after work even though it’s the end of the week and the day we all most want to go out, giving up the internet for the day, eating bread only, eating lunch (I bring from home) only slightly warmed instead of nice and hot, skipping lunch and just going to pray for a bit, giving up all animal products (like eggs and cheese), and coming home from work and doing laundry and other chores for the evening instead of the relaxing I’d much prefer after a long week.

  14. Imrahil says:

    The laws usually say “some penance”, not “some correspondingly hard penance”. Of course, it must be some penance and not no penance at all.

    If I have access to my prayerbook, I say the Litany of the Sorrows of Christ as given there. If not, I say a decade of the Rosary, chosen from among the sorrowful mysteries. I move my lips to make sure I have actually prayed the thing.

    (Though I strive to only do so for a reason, such as visiting my family, St. Stephen which is a holiday, Easter Friday which I’m never so sure about, my name’s day perhaps and maybe birthday and the like and, were I American, Thanksgiving Friday.)

    Btw. happy thanksgiving.

  15. TWF says:

    Tom A: there’s always the Eastern practice (observed on every Wednesday and Thursday, as per the practice of the early Church) of abstaining from not only meat but also fish, eggs, dairy, oil and wine.

  16. TWF says:

    Sorry meant to say every Wednesday and Friday.

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    “they must not pass judgment on those who elect to substitute other penitential observances.”

    Does anyone doubt that most U.S. Catholics who dispense with abstinence from meat on Fridays elect to substitute no other penitential observance?

  18. Pigeon says:

    Here’s the full text of the indult.

    “16 November 1956
    His Holiness Pope Pius XII
    To all the faithful, and bishops of the world, and those looking for an excuse:

    The Christians of the United States of America have the most venerable custom of giving thanks through a great feast on the fourth Thursday of November. We have decided, after much prayerful consideration, to allow Americans to continue their feast, turkey and all, on the following Friday. We dispense with the requirement to abstain from meat this day. We also dispense with the traditional prayer before meals to allow for “rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, yay God!” Finally, Americans are permitted to wait in line beginning Thursday evening for amazing Black Friday savings provided they did not support the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Amen.”

  19. Nan says:

    @Henry Edwards, most think only that abstinence from meat is no longer required. They didn’t get the memo that another penance could replace that.

  20. un-ionized says:

    How would you know what “most think?” You can read minds? How come I didn’t get this marvelous ability when I converted? Is it genetic and only found in cradle Catholics? I’m laughing.

  21. majuscule says:

    A few months ago I (unknowingly) found myself in the midst of a group of Spirit of Vatican II Catholics. This included a high up diocesan cleric and a principal at a Catholic school. As an aside in this meeting one person joked that our priest, whom he had encountered at a restaurant, had reminded him of our Friday abstinence. I know this priest and he would have formed his statement in a firm but kind manner. (I believe this was brought up to show that the priest is a “ridgid traditionalist who hates Vatican II”.)

    I well remember when my not-even-Christmas-Easter-church attending family got the word that we could eat meat on Friday and we did. Only years later when I returned to Mass and avidly read all I could to renew my faith did I find that we were to substitute another penance if we chose to eat meat on Friday. I spoke up at this meeting, telling them that it was a misperception that we could simply eat meat on Friday. We could but that we were to substitute something else for a penance…

    The Catholic school principal looked at me sternly and said that the USCCB says we don’t have to refrain from eating meat, there is no need to substitute something else and he goes by what the USCCB says.

    I wish I had gone prepared with the USCCB statement. I am a rather timid soul so even speaking up as I did was prompted by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps my words may cause someone to look into the truth at some point.

    I pray for my bishop every day, what with priests and school principals who are stuck in the heyday of the Spirit of Vatican II prowling about the diocese seeking who knows what…

  22. robtbrown says:

    Henry Edwards says:

    Does anyone doubt that most U.S. Catholics who dispense with abstinence from meat on Fridays elect to substitute no other penitential observance?

    My impression is that people tend to think that the required abstinence from meat on Friday has simply been made optional. As a matter of fact, I have to wonder whether those of us who still observe the Friday abstinence are rigid–simply trying to hide our own insecurity.

    Does Freud list the preference for the 1962 Missal and Friday abstinence from meat among the Defense Mechanisms?

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    I am pretty sure that Freud was dead by 1962 (he died in 1939).

    It’s a plot, I tell ya. I went to a nice, Family Friendly™ restaurant and ordered an egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast and after pouring some ginger mint tea and receiving my order sat down for some lovely post-Thanksgiving Internetting, when after getting involved reading a site, I noticed my sandwich tasted odd. Lo and behold, there was bacon in my sandwich! Bacon! Cooked pig! Needless to say, I thought of the post on the post-Thanksgiving faux indult. My lips haven’t touched meat on a Friday for twenty years. Okay, do I confess for not being observant about possible ingredients in my food (the pig was well-hidden in the sandwich)? Oh, the scandal! I stopped eating the sandwich the moment I realized I was eating swine, although I might have taken a couple of bites because the Internet is more distracting than food and let’s face it, who would suspect smuggled pork in egg and cheese?

    I fully expect to “sooie,” the restaurant.

    Seriously, no subjective sin was committed because the meat was eaten without willful deliberation or knowledge, but one cannot assume, anymore, that Catholic sensibilities will be observed by secular establishments. It used to be that restaurants had Friday specials for Catholics. Now, we get non-meat deals because of vegetarians.

    “How would you know what “most think?” You can read minds? How come I didn’t get this marvelous ability when I converted? Is it genetic and only found in cradle Catholics? I’m laughing.”

    Why, yes, yes I can. I can tell you, pretty accurately, what most chickens are thinking about. I think the ability is only found in Catholic chickens, however. I am not surprised that humans are not granted the ability. They actually have a day devoted to turkey sacrifice!

    The Chicken

  24. un-ionized says:

    Poor chicken. Poor piggie. Poor turkey. Which came first, the chicken or the sausage egg and cheese sandwich?

  25. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear un-ionized,

    I apologize for giving offense in my last comment.

    The Chicken

  26. un-ionized says:

    There no offense there that I can see, humor is always good, even when it’s bad, which mine so often is (I have extremely tolerant friends).

    I am sorry about your inadvertent meat attack. I am sure you are okay even if your stomach isn’t, or is it a crop?

    I am lucky, I work with a bunch of Hindus so vegetarian choices are always abundant, and I remind the staff a week in advance about the start of Lent. There are lots of Catholics too.

  27. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    I am pretty sure that Freud was dead by 1962 (he died in 1939).

    It was a joke. (I thought you said you have studied humor.)

  28. un-ionized says:

    robtbrown, it was obviously an effect of the inadvertent meat attack.

  29. Nan says:

    @Chicken, the problem is that “egg and cheese” implies “bacon, egg and cheese” to all but vegetarians and vegans.

    @TWF, the “Orthodox Fast” is no different from the historic Catholic fasting rules, and no different from Eastern Catholic fasting rules. In fact, St. Philips Fast has already begun; this is a pre-Christmas fasting period, beginning in mid-Nov.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Using the Historical Critical Method, I have decided that it wasn’t a vision that convinced Peter that the sanction against pork was to be ended. Rather, it was that he was given a BLT with thick sliced bacon or a Hardee’s Sausage Egg biscuit.

  31. jhayes says:

    In 2011, the Bishops of England and Wales changed back to abstaining from meat as the Friday penance. They published a FAQ which answered a question as to whether eating meat on Friday would be a sin.

    Are the Bishops placing a greater obligation on Catholics in England and Wales? Apart from the exceptions above, will it be a ‘sin’ to eat meat on a Friday after the Bishops’ decision takes effect in September?

    The obligation on Catholics in England and Wales to do penance on a Friday will be the same after Friday 16 September 2011 as it was before that date. The only change is that the Bishops have determined that the requirement by all the faithful to do penance on a Friday will be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.

    Whilst failure to abstain from meat on a particular Friday would not constitute a ‘sin’ as such, the Vatican has previously made it clear that it is our duty as Catholics to undertake penance on a Friday. It is more a question of intending to ‘carry a small cross for Christ’ than about abstaining from meat. The person who knowingly decides not to undertake any Friday penance at all is probably ‘sinning’; the person who accidentally eats a ham sandwich for lunch is probably not.

    http://www.rcdow.org.uk/diocese/default.asp?library_ref=4&content_ref=3473

  32. jhayes says:

    The second paragraph of the answer given in the FAQ I quoted is as it appears on the website of the Diocese of Westminster. However, that part of the answer is different in the version of the FAQ published by the CBCEW. Here is the version from the Bishop’s Conference, which quotes guidance from the Vatican

    Are the Bishops placing a greater obligation on Catholics in England and Wales? Apart from the exceptions above, will it be a ‘sin’ to eat meat on a Friday after the Bishops’ decision takes effect in September?

    The obligation on Catholics in England and Wales to do penance on a Friday will be the same after Friday 16 September 2011 as it was before that date. The only change is that the Bishops have determined that the requirement by all the faithful to do penance on a Friday will be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. When asked a similar question to this, the Holy See replied that the ‘gravity’ of the obligation applies to our intention to observe penance as a regular and necessary part of our spiritual lives as a whole*

    Therefore, the ‘gravity’ of the obligation does not relate to observing the specific act of penance (abstaining from meat) prescribed by the Conference of Bishops. The ‘gravity’ of the obligation applies to the intention to do penance during the prescribed penitential days and seasons of the Church’s year** Failure to abstain from meat on a particular Friday then would not constitute a sin.

    Fr Marcus Stock
    General Secretary
    Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

    *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).

    **Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, Pope Paul VI

    http://www.rcdow.org.uk/fileupload/upload/fridaypenance5920113121.pdf

    I have since read an article by another priest who feels that Fr. Stock’s version is confusing. I could not find a copy on the website of the CBCEW, so it may have been removed from there although it is still on the Diocese of Westminster website.