ASK FATHER: Can we eat meat this Friday in the Octave of Easter? During the season of Easter?

Since we are now at the rough midpoint of the Easter Octave – Happy Easter! – let’s get out in front of this before the calendar clicks over to Friday

From a reader…


My wife and I recently returned to the traditional friday abstinence from meat year round.

Traditionally, would the friday abstinence from meat also apply during fridays of the whole easter season?

What about just the octave?

Congratulations for wanting to adhere to the traditional practices.  Kudos.

You’ve asked a good question.

Pay attention, in the Latin Church, to can. 1251:

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.

The days of the Octave of Easter are celebrated as Solemnities (in the Novus Ordo calendar).    Therefore, there is no obligation for the Friday penance on this coming Friday.

The other Fridays of Eastertide are not Solemnities.  This applies only to Friday in the Octave of Easter. BTW… this does not apply to the Octave of Christmas, for those days of that Octave are not counted as “Solemnities” as are those of the Easter Octave.

This is how the 1983 Code of Canon Law handles Friday in the Octave of Easter, and this applies also to those who prefer the Extraordinary Form (which did not have “Solemnities”).   This year, 2020, on the traditional Roman Calendar we will have on Friday, 1 May the I Class Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  However, that being a I Class Feast doesn’t override the obligation of Friday penance unless there are other circumstances, for example it is also your parish’s patronal feast, etc.  In that case… read what follows.

NB: As far as other Fridays are concerned, outside the Octave of Easter or some other Solemnity, you can ask your parish priest to dispense you or commute your act of penance.

Can. 1245 Without prejudice to the right of diocesan bishops mentioned in can. 87, for a just cause and according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop, a pastor[parish priest] can grant in individual cases a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day or a day of penance or can grant a commutation of the obligation into other pious works. A superior of a religious institute or society of apostolic life, if they are clerical and of pontifical right, can also do this in regard to his own subjects and others living in the house day and night.

Abstinence from meat has good reasoning behind it. For some, however, there abstinence from other things can be of great spiritual effect.

Certainly you would never abstain from reading this blog… or ordering…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Hidden One says:

    For the other Canadians around–especially as we tend to default to the belief that ecclesiastical laws particular to the USA are identical to our own–I’d like to note that our conference of bishops (long ago, but you can find the official document online) commuted Friday abstinence EVEN IN LENT to some other work. Ergo, our only mandatory days of abstinence are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Alas, but this is how it is right now.

  2. Rob in Maine says:

    Won’t my wife be shocked when I order a pepperoni pizza Friday!

    [I urge you not to try intentionally to shock people or scandalize them if they are not as well informed as you are.]

  3. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    In the dioceses of San Jose (there are several, only one of which is in California), if I read the text correctly, St. Joseph’s feast days are Solemnities by default, aren’t they? Our Cathedral is the Basilica of St. Joseph, but that doesn’t deliver a double-whammy, does it: patronal feast of both diocese and parish?

  4. William Cody says:

    Why does our leadership [USCCB] continue to promote the misconception that, regarding abstinence from meat, extra quadragesimam nulla obligationam? (I hope I said that right)

  5. nnn says:

    Here in Poland, abstinence from meat is mandatory throughout the whole year. I remember being absolutely shocked learning it’s not the same in other countries because it was long before I learned what I know now and in my teenage head it was as obvious that Fridays mean abstinence as that the Sun rises in the east.

  6. Ms. M-S says:

    The Church doesn’t ask us to abstain from anything for which there’s no sufficient substitute. We’re not asked to abstain from oxygen or water. We do abstain from meat but consume some other sufficient substitute (hopefully not the dreadful faux meats certain mad scientists offer the unwary) and we may additionally make a penitential voluntary sacrifice of something good, like sweets or wine. As for abstaining from this blog— absolutely out of the question because there’s no strictly sufficient substitute.

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  8. Joe in Canada says:

    so, what is the other Solemnity that always falls on a Friday?

  9. Lirioroja says:

    The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus always falls on a Friday.

Comments are closed.