Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Penance in England and Wales

Most people are unclear about the Friday penance regulations in England and Wales whilst the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales have been saying for years the Friday penance may be met in a variety of ways, for example:
a) by abstaining from meat or some other food
b) by abstaining from alcoholic drink, smoking or some form of amusement
c) by making the special effort involved in family prayer, taking part in the Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament or praying the Stations of the Cross
d) by fasting from all food for a longer period than usual and perhaps giving
what is saved in this way to the needy at home and abroad
e) by making a special effort to help somebody who is poor, sick, old or lonely, or committing time and effort
to working for justice.
It is so broad, no wonder most Catholics treat Friday as any other day!

When I was a young priest the lapsed still believed Fridays was a meat free day, because they were lapsed the message hadn't through that they could take options a-e, so for the ordinarily lapsed Friday fish still bound them to the Church, whilst meat eating meant a real distancing from her.

9 comments:

The Guild Master said...

As far as I can see, (c) and (e) don't strictly qualify as penance. The BCEW have conflated penance, prayer and almsgiving. The Church has always distinguished between them for good reason. The spirit of a corporal work of mercy (e) is very different from the penitential act of giving up something licit that we enjoy (a). The bishops show once again their spititual illiteracy! In the USA Fridays in Lent revert to the traditional abstinence from meat (no alternatives allowed).

JARay said...

For several years now I have stuck with Friday abstinence. I even impose it on my sons if they come and visit me. They know that Dad will not eat meat on a Friday so it's Fish and Chips and no questions. This is so much sense and, for me at least, so ingrained, that it is automatic. Bring it back! And I don't mean just for Lent!

madame evangelista said...

Many people don't eat meat anyway, so going without it on a Friday isn't the least bit of a penance. It makes sense to have alternative suggestions for Friday abstinence.

JARay said...

I see that madame evangelista has raised the matter of those who desist from the the natural source of God given food, which is that of animals! We humans are omnivores and our teeth reinforce this. However, should some of us decide to ignore a major food source and thereby deprive themselves of a normal balanced diet, then so be it.
Perhaps they can give up the staple food of the Irish when they were starving because of the failure of the potato crop. That might be a suitable deprivation instead of a normal meat diet.
I know that I could never exist on a vegan diet, and I have a friend who will not serve anything other than vegan food, so I avoid the necessity of dining at his table as often as possible. He even asked me if the wine which I had purchased was "organic"?????
What wine is not organic?
As we Yorkshire men say "There's nowt so queer as fowk"

pelerin said...

I agree with Fr Ray - when the many alternatives were brought in by the Bishops the average person soon forgot about doing anything for Friday penance. I admit I certainly did for years. Later it never even occurred to me that I could abstain from meat on a Friday volontarily and that some Catholics were actually still doing this. When I found this out I immediately reverted to Friday abstinance and find it a good discipline to make Fridays special and call to mind Our Lord's Passion.

Because I eat very little meat people may say that abstinance would not make much difference but it is surprising how many times there is that appetising left over piece of chicken in the fridge on a Friday or if I am away for the day and fancy a McDonalds only to realise that it's Friday and I have to find an alternative. Yes it is a good test in discipline. The alternatives can be added after if wished but we need the simple basic denying of a small pleasure like that in order to help us face the more important disciplines of life if we are to follow the way of Christ and His Church.

Dilly said...

I hate the way that the "justice and peace" alternative is used by some to suggest that abstaining from meat is somehow inferior and old-fashioned. Believe me, if I were to choose the justice option, it would involve smacking a particularly disruptive Year 13 round the chops with a wet haddock the next time he stops the other students from concentrating.

Gigi said...

Interesting! As a pesky vegetarian - although not vegan - I realised I was falling under the radar of the Friday Abstinence a couple of years ago. When I was at school and still eating meat and fish, Friday was a fish 'n' chip night, which I admit I loved. I still love chunky chips; probably my Irish side; so I decided I wouldn't have the chips (with anything) on a Friday. I don't eat chocolate on a Friday either and explained that to a work colleague a while ago. She is Catholic, but simply feels Friday is fish-not-meat day, which is a bit of a cop-out really!

tlh said...

Father,
Donations can perhaps be made instead to the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" , the Holy Father's charity.

tlh said...

Sorry Father, I meant to post my previous massage on the 'Commercialisation of Fasting' post, not this one.