ASK FATHER: “I was filling out a family liturgical calendar and got to thinking…”

From a reader…

This doesn’t really apply to next year, but I was filling out a family liturgical calendar and got to thinking. My wife and I have recently started abstaining meat on Fridays. We were married on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Next year this will fall on a Friday, and knowing that is a not solemnity would my wife and I have dispensation as it is a family feast that we share?

No, I’m afraid not. If it were your parish patronal feast, perhaps (and you would be in Rome).  Keep in mind that other penances can be substituted and that your pastor can commute your penance to another work or dispense you.

However, the interesting thing for me in this email is that you were filling out a family liturgical calendar.


Our family homes should be “domestic churches”, filled with prayer.  Holy Church in her wisdom gives us the liturgical year and presents us with the mysteries of our salvation.  We should tie our lives into these beautiful, mystery laden cycles.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. jhayes says:

    You didn’t mention which country you live in. If it is the US, I would think you could substitute some other penance on that Friday.

  2. Forgive me for asking, but what exactly is a “family” liturgical calendar and how does it differ from the general roman calendar of either the ordinary form or the extraordinary form?

  3. ASPM Sem says:

    I’ve thought about how far one could legitimately try to stretch parish saint feasts/dedications to make them apply as solemnities to Fridays. There’s the parish I call home, the parish I geographically live in, the seminary chapel, the geographical parish of the restaurant I am happen sitting in, etc…

  4. Geoffrey says:

    “Keep in mind that other penances can be substituted and that your pastor can commute your penance to another work or dispense you.”

    Canonical quaeritur: Would this be the pastor of your territorial parish or your “registered” parish?

  5. un-ionized says:

    CatholicTG, It sounds like it’s a calendar that marks feast days of family members such as days related to baptismal names, confirmation names, etc. Just a guess.

  6. SPWang says:

    I think this is awesome. We celebrate birthdays, name days and God-Children’s birthday’s ect but anniversaries also such as First Holy Communion anniversaries, baptisms and the like in a small but still unique way. It could be a cupcake or a bag of lollies but it teaches the kids the importance of Feast days but also the importance of penance before the ‘Church lets her hair down.’ (Dad goes a bit silly)

  7. Unwilling says:

    Yes. It is from practical piety like this that spiritual hunger for the Word increases and begs for the sustenance of solemnity.

  8. Precentrix says:

    To the questioner:
    Since the dedication of the Lateran basilica is in November, if you are somewhere like the USA where “another penance” may be substituted, you could do something else instead of abstaining from meat on that day. If you are in a part of the world where abstinence from meat is required, you can have scallops and lobster. #legalism.

  9. Precentrix says:

    (My point being that if there is not an actual obligation to abstain from meat, one would not require a dispensation to eat meat on that day).

  10. ASPM Sem says:

    “Canonical quaeritur: Would this be the pastor of your territorial parish or your “registered” parish?”

    Canonically, geographical pastor only (or a personal [i.e. national, language, etc] parish if you belong to one). However, custom is the best interpreter of laws, so one could make an argument. I’m not sure how good of one it would be; My friend studying canon law says it’s not.

  11. JDBenedictH says:

    Well, when in doubt you could always keep the penance and offer it up for the presbyterate of our diocese.

  12. smithUK says:

    I have created, and am continually adding to, a Word doc covering the whole year, month by month, of Feasts and such like according to the 1962 Calendar. It outlines what prayers to say and sing with my family, and what particular foods to make on particular occasions, all sorts of things really – pious activities, articles to read, special Masses to attend, Saints to call upon etc. I mention all of this because a great many of the entries in the document are hyperlinked to scanned copies of Father Z’s omnium gatherum articles from the Catholic Herald – I highly recommend these as a rich source of information to help one immerse ones self in the beauty of Catholic culture. As Father says time and again, we are our rites.

  13. Fiat Domine says:

    What is a Family Liturgical Calendar?

  14. Christophorus says:

    By analogy – I would say that the anniversary of a marriage for a family is the same as the dedication of a church for a parish. It would be a first class feast (or solemnity)

  15. Filipino Catholic says:

    Someone with a background in mechanical engineering might want to look into replicating the perpetual calendar in Strasbourg Cathedral for their house, right down to the Computus mechanism that sets the date of Easter (and all the related movable feasts) every time the new year rings in.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear SmithUK,

    I’d humbly suggest Excel ;-)

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear SmithUK,

    I’d humbly suggest Excel ;-)

  18. un-ionized says:

    Filipino Catholic, that would be a great retirement project!

  19. un-ionized says:

    Fiat Domine, see my reply above to somebody else. Nobody has said I’m wrong so I may be right (for once).

  20. Richard A says:

    I thought the Dedication of St. John Lateran is a solemnity, and so would oblige the faithful consume the finest cut of steak they could reasonably afford.

  21. Fiat Domine says:

    Un-ionized –
    Thank you very much! That was very kind of you to respond to my question with your humorous answer. May God Bless you and keep you always in His Holy Will. Thanks again for your time.

  22. Nan says:

    ASPM Sem, it isn’t always as clear as that. I was a Mass deprived child, not a Divine Liturgy deprived child. Despite Canon Law saying I belong to a Byzantine Rite, I was raised in the Latin Rite, until I was 7 and we stopped going to church. Canon law doesn’t force me to become a member of my personal parish, yet it binds me to the traditions of a church I don’t know, traditions with which I’m unfamiliar. Canon law doesn’t prohibit me from changing rites but my Archdiocesan Judicial Vicar told me that wanting to change rites was insufficient; when I informed him that membership in the church of my canonical rite would be like being a convert, he recommended that I continue as I am; a misplaced Ruthenian in the Latin Rite.

    At that point, who has jurisdiction?

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