ASK FATHER: Meat when a feast falls on a Friday

From a reader:


I am a newly registered member of a parish […] for whom the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is that of the principle patron. Hence, that should be 1st class (solemnity) for the archdiocese. In the traditional calendar, that feast falls on Friday, 22 August, but not, of course, in the new calendar.

My question, then, is this: do I observe this coming Friday [Sorry, this is a few days late!] as a patronal solemnity owing to my membership in a traditional personal parish in this specific diocese, or do I merely observe the feast liturgically, but orient the rest of my day towards the sense of penance that characterizes a Friday?

According the principle favorabilia amplianda – that favors are to be amplified (Regulae Iuris 15), I say that the Feast should have been celebrated on Friday 22 August, with ribs, steaks, and porkchops aplenty.  Or, given that you are in the south, I suppose also hog jowls, possum, etc.   I haven’t been to Atlanta.  Do you have your own style of BBQ there?  I digress.

Furthermore, we are permitted, under the present Code for the Latin Church, to substitute penances for abstinence on a Friday.

Keep in mind that in these USA Catholics are not obliged under the norms outlines by the conference of bishops to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.  Catholics in England and Wales are, however, and I am sure that they are much the happier for it.

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  1. wmeyer says:

    Father, it has been my understanding that in lieu of abstinence, we are obliged to offer some other sacrifice. Is that incorrect? Just curious. In our home, we abstain.

  2. Mike says:

    American norms or no, abstaining on Friday (feast days excepted) seems the easiest thing to do. So much so that I’m taken aback when the subject comes up in the odd conversation and I get the “whaaaa?” look — not that, given the eclipse of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving over the past couple of generations, one can really blame anybody for looking askance.

    To digress further upon the subject of barbecue in Atlanta, if there is any fit to eat, it is highly likely that they got it from Birmingham, Ala. Not being eager to take rash chances with such things, I haven’t investigated.

  3. Charlie Cahill says:

    Canadians are not obligated to refrain from meat on Fridays with the exception of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
    We are much happier for that.
    Very difficult in today’s working conditions and family conditions to avoid meat and meat products.
    Our bishops understood that and am sure the US bishops have as well.
    No wonder England-Wales is in such trouble.
    Where’s the beef?!

  4. JesusFreak84 says:

    I’m frankly too lazy to think of alternate penances =-p That and I follow the Gregorian iteration of the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic calendar and I don’t *think* the exemption applies to them, though under Canon Law I’d still be considered a Roman Catholic. I just avoid meat on the days my UGCC calendar has a fish on it =-p

  5. Simon_GNR says:

    “Keep in mind that in these USA Catholics are not obliged under the norms outlines by the conference of bishops to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Catholics in England and Wales are, however, and I am sure that they are much the happier for it.”
    As a Catholic resident in England I can confirm that I am happier that abstaining from meat on Fridays is the rule. It is a step towards restoring traditional Catholic practice and spirituality. Brick by brick…..

    On the question of feast days that fall on Fridays, at the recent Feast of the Assumption, our parish priest said in his homily that as the day was a major feast day we should give ourselves some special treat to celebrate the Holy Day. I inferred, I now think incorrectly, that we were being excused from abstention from meat, but it didn’t make any difference to me as we were having fish for dinner in any case.

  6. truthfinder says:

    Assumption is a First class, or solemnity – therefore no penance at all. It should be treated like a Sunday. If you wanted to eat meat on Assumption, it’s perfectly allowed.

  7. Uxixu says:

    I started doing meatless Friday year-round. Sometimes I’ll be asked “I thought that was only during Lent?”

    I did very much enjoy a steak on the Feast of the Assumption with an appropriate explanation to a friend who said “wait, I thought you didn’t eat meat on Friday now?”

  8. momoften says:

    I have been abstaining from meat on Fridays for awhile now, and have my children follow
    practice. If you think about it, how do we really know if our sacrifice really is a good substitute
    for abstinence on Fridays? Much less, in our culture today especially, we claim we will make
    a sacrifice, but I wonder how many of those fall by the wayside as a good intention without
    actually fulfilling it? And finally, again in the culture we live in today, we should learn to embrace some kind of mortification-as should our children. Too many people do not do that.

  9. Netmilsmom says:

    Mike- abstaining from meat on Fridays is the easiest thing to do when you’re not the meal planner!
    When your not the meal planner AND you have a husband who doesn’t like cheese, a daughter who turns up her nose at eggs, another that won’t eat much of anything but chicken nuggets and all of us needing to be low carb.
    It’s not easy so I never do any other sacrifice! It’s work but that’s good.

  10. chris1 says:

    Father, we’ve got to find a reason to get you to Atlanta. Maybe you could speak at next year’s Eucharistic Congress or something. Heck, we could get you up to Rome (that being the Rome in Georgia) to do a parish mission or something.

    What do we have here? We have barbeque, southern style, generally smoked and NOT swimming in sauce, but you can add sauce yourself if you’d like. Most places give you the option of Carolina style or Kansas City style sauce. We also have a little something called The Varsity. I’ll get you a nekkid dog and a frosted orange.

    Oh, and Chick-fil-A is native to Atlanta.

  11. Fabrizio says:

    “Cum de non comedendis carnibus collatio fieret, quia dies Veneris erat, respondit fratri Morico dicens: “Peccas, frater, diem Veneris vocans quo Puer natus est nobis. Volo”, inquit, “quod etiam parietes tali die comedant carnes, et si non possunt, vel de foris liniantur!”.

    B. Thomae a Celano, Vita secunda Sancti Francisci Assisiensis, CLI

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. vetusta ecclesia says:

    The state of the Church in England and Wales cannot be attributed to Friday abstinence! It was reintroduced following the visit of BXVI to these shores so that our Friday penance could be a communal act and a witness to RC identity. That said, it is widely ignored. You can’t put the djinn back in the bottle. As the Bishops also widely ignore various directives from Rome, especially re. liturgy, they scarcely have grounds to complain!

  13. Cafea Fruor says:

    Charlie Cahill said: “Very difficult in today’s working conditions and family conditions to avoid meat and meat products.”

    Really? How so? I rarely eat meat and have absolutely no trouble in doing so. Granted, I’m American and not Canadian, but why is this so very difficult? How is peanut butter and jelly, eggs, meatless soup, salad, tuna, beans, or anything else without so hard? Heck, it’s even a lot cheaper to go without meat. I just don’t get this concept of difficulty.

  14. Cafea Fruor says:

    Edit: “without so hard” should be “without meat so hard”.

  15. AnAmericanMother says:

    I second Chris1’s invitation. Maybe you could speak at the next SE Liturgical Music Conference, or something . . .
    . . . and we can get you up to Rome as well. My father’s family are all from there. Built on seven hills just like the original, a copy of the Capitoline Wolf sits in front of City Hall with a very learned Latin inscription underneath, but the Episcopalians bagged St. Peter as their patron before we got to town!
    Atlanta is an anomaly because it is mostly populated by people from Somewhere Else. But you can find real southern BBQ if you know where to look – I happen to know a couple of competition chefs with their own giant cookers.
    Nothing wrong with hog jowl in greens or other veggies, but possum is right out . . .

  16. Imrahil says:

    There’s much to be said for the reintroduction of compulsory abstention.

    There’s also much to be said to generally abstain even where this is not obligatory.

    However, in the latter case – as long as the binding rule is not reestablished – there is very much to be said to not make too great a burden out of voluntary practices – which suggests (to me) here: use the Episcopal Conference’s dispensation on justifying occasions. When there was the law, I think you could ask your pastor for a dispensation; but you cannot ask him for a dispensation for what you never had to do in the first place.

    So, substituting some penance is not too hard (by the way I generally use the Litany of the Sorrows of Our Lord as present in our prayer book), and will certainly bring you out on the safe side as far as the letter of the law is concerned. As for the spirit, as your intention is the solemnity of the community you attend, there is no need to worry at all. (I have no idea, though, whether you are technically bound by the law, but then a little penitential prayer will do no harm even if you are not.)
    Let’s worry about what to do in England and Wales, or once their precedent is followed in our place, if we live there / when that has happened.

    A general question, though: Is Easter Friday a solemnity in the sense of the abstinence law, or does it only “have the rank of solemnity” in the sense of liturgical precedence?

  17. truthfinder says:

    Easter Friday is a solemnity (FSSP priest said every octave day of Easter is like Easter itself) and therefore no abstinence.

  18. BillyT92679 says:

    As is Sacred Heart. Those are my two big Fridays every year that I get to celebrate with some meat.

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