Thursday, October 14, 2010

Note to self: Friday mortification required! *UPDATE* -- Urged not Required!!

**Important update (thank you, Cathy):
The U.S. bishops "did not completely eliminate the legal obligation to do penance on Fridays. They restricted the legal obligation to certain Fridays of the year [Lent] and replaced it with an exhortation to penance on the remaining Fridays."

(Go here for more.)

That is a wonderfully needed clarification! So, there is no "binding" on this issue (thus no sin), outside of the Lenten season. (But I'm still sticking to my plan.)

So, a few posts ago, we talked about discipline vs. doctrine.
(Note to new readers: That is a very important post, especially for Catholics; please go there immediately!)

In the comments, Cathy was good enough to remind us that, even though we are no longer bound to abstain from meat on Fridays (outside of the Lenten season), we are still [exhorted] to perform some type of Friday mortification in remembrance of Christ's Passion and death.

I will admit that for many years, I have struggled with implementing this [exhortation]. Often, I don't remember it at all.

But, starting tomorrow, those days are gone! I am now committed to a weekly act of self-denial and sacrifice that will impress the heck out of you me!

Are you ready??

I am going to abstain from blogging and computers on Fridays! All blogs, all blogging, all email, all web surfing, all of it! Every Friday. Every single Friday from this day forth!

Do you know what that is going to do to me?!


I will be made so holy by this offering that I will levitate out of my bedroom window and into the sky with a luminous glow such that it will prompt the bishop to open the cause for my canonization even before I am dead.


I will be like a junkie denied a fix, pacing the floors, walking in circles, confused, with a dazed look in my eyes, pulling myself towards and then away from my drug of choice, perhaps needing to be locked up for my own protection.

But, one way or another, I will do it!

The blogs will still be there when I get back, right? And, email can wait, can't it? If there is an emergency, folks can call me on the phone, yes? Nothing truly catastrophic will happen, will it?

Do you know what will motivate me when I am tempted to break my promise and take back my offering to God? I will look to my crucifix and recall a Man who once was tortured, nailed, bled and died for love of pitiful me. And so if I can't give up one day of a creature comfort for Him, well then, I don't deserve the name Christian.

Pray for me! :)


  1. Awesome Leila! You have inspired me. We have been procrastinating on Friday offerings for way too long. No more!

    And, just for the record, I'm going with the levitate option...

  2. When I saw this post I thought, I'm not reading it! I'm NOT gonna read it! But since today is only Thursday and I have time to prepare "mentally" for it...I will join you................................................................................UGH!!!!!!

  3. I think this is a GREAT idea.

    SO HARD THOUGH!!!!!!!!!

    Still, we have some great causes to "offer it up" for, eh? :) Conversion, anyone?


  4. Ah, man... and I have a lovely guest homeschooling post scheduled for tomorrow. Everyone's gonna be gone now. :( It's like the Friday before Spring Break and everyone left town before my birthday party. LOL

  5. Leila! I was perfectly satisfied giving up meat on Fridays! (and isn't me being satisfied what a fast is all about??)

    Why did you have to go and suggest something so difficult?! Now I'm forced to ask the question, "Does God want me to fast from the internet on Fridays??" And I have a feeling I already know His answer....

  6. Ugh. I agree with Kaitlin...I was doing so well with giving up meat! Do you think that Jen at Conversion Diary would accept Thursday Quick Takes?

  7. Leila, I may just join you, too! I have been procrastinating on coming up with a Friday Mortification....

    I have to attend my job on Fridays which requires some internet connectivity...but I can definitely leave the blogs alone on Fridays.

    I guess I'll take it to Adoration tonight and figure something out. Thanks for the "kick in the pants"!

    And could always get your Quick Takes up and published on just wouldn't be able to linky-link to her.

  8. I have to admit, I have never once heard this or been taught this. Is it required in the sense it's a sin if we know about it and don't do anything? Should it be confessed before receiving the Eucharist?

  9. Hmmmm Sounds like a great idea! I had never really given it that much thought before, I really only did the no meat on Fridays during Lent thing, Good luck! I may try something out of my own. :)

  10. Friday fast from the computer is a fantastic idea.
    If this isn't your bag, you can ADD some form of penance to your day - e.g. read the Bible for an hour, say an extra rosary, etc.
    This alone will keep you from excessive internet time.

  11. Just found your web-page over the weekend, and have learned some much. And again, today learned something I hadn't known. Thank you so much!

  12. Good for you. I do dare say though that you don't need to give up anything to remember Christ's suffering.
    We have a tradition of collecting food items for our local food bank before communion as was praciced in early Reformation days. Exept for some reason I ALWAYS forget my items! I am considering putting them in the car the night before since my brain just refuses to work at 8am on Sunday morning.
    Back to the subject of remembering Christ's suffering. My 5yo sin started crying when I explained to him what bread and wine represent and what Communion means. Sometimes I think that we as adults are really not understading the Lord's Supper.

  13. oops, I meant 'son' ,not 'sin'

  14. No pressure to anyone, but I have made a "Blog Fast" icon if anyone wants it. I will put it up tomorrow (well, I will set my blog post to publish after midnight) and anyone can use it. You can email me as well and I'll send it.

    Olya, not to open this debate, but imagine what your son would think if he knew that in the Catholic Church, Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity! Awesome!

  15. Megan-I'm concerned about Quick Takes too! They're my favorite posts to write. I think I just may write them Thursday evening and schedule them to publish....

    AYWH-I think that since this is one of the Church's teachings-once you become aware of it you are bound to follow it. Obviously not an exteremly serious sin-so it wouldn't need to be confessed before receiving Communion. But I have confessed it before-so I guess it's venial?? Just my thoughts-anyone else have any insight?

  16. I was going to say 'please don't start THAT debate' and then deleted it :)

  17. Kaitlin, I was hoping someone would address that for AYWH! What you said sounds right!

    Olya, ha ha!

  18. We have always given up meat (or made another mortification) on Fridays. I prefer giving up meat, which means I should really be giving up something else, huh?
    AYWH...yes, it is required by the Chuch, so once you know about it, it is a sin that must be confessed (not for all the times you didn't do this prior to being educated, but from this moment forward)

  19. Like Julie, I'm not too "impresed" by giving up meat. We eat vegetarian every other night anyway. I might have to start this blog fast thing, but it could kill me, so I'll have to spend a few weeks getting used to the idea first. lol.

  20. Thanks for the answers. I'm sorry to keep going off topic with this, but I am just shocked I didn't know about this. And it makes me wonder what else I don't know. Is there a list of requirements that I can refer to? Or do you just find them
    throughout the catechism? If I am clueless, I assume millions of others are too.

  21. Actually it's Canon Law and we are all bound to it. Ignorance of our Faith is not an excuse from it but it is a venial sin so not one that would keep us from the sacraments.

    Canon 1250  All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times
    throughout the entire Church.

    Canon 1251  Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

    Canon 1252  All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of
    abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

    Canon 1253  It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

    In the United States the conference of Bishops have said that it is left to the individual to choose the form this penance takes. Our family just does no meat on Fridays year round for the sake of ease but occasionally substitute something else. Also, keep in mind that the Friday fast is NOT required when a solemnity falls on a Friday --like St. Joseph did this year and Annunciation will next year (and those are even during Lent!). Also, during Easter which is considered one great solemnity. So we do not fast from Easter until Pentecost.

  22. @allyouwhohope yes many are clueless and really because they have not been taught (yours truly being no exception). The Catechism is a great place to start and I highly recommend it. Also just hang around these blogs and you will learn a lot!

  23. Oh so I really have to do this! Well, it's good for me. But it's interesting! I'm so excited to Bestill and know that He is....

  24. What will you do instead? You must have a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Rosary? Read? Cook? (teehee)

  25. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." HA! Alishia, I love that!! I'm using it with my kids!!

    A plan.... how 'bout I do everything I was sposta do all along? Hmmmm....

  26. Gee Leila, makes ya wonder how much of a "sacrifice" it might actually be. I mean if I HAD to stay off the internet for the day, just imagine all the things I could get done!

    I'm just sayin'. . . ;-)

  27. Michele, SO true!! But, I'm thinking that God will be pleased with the stuff I will finally be doing! So, it's all good! :)

  28. Thanks, Leila. My Friday Mortification is not being able to read what you would have posted on Friday. Does that count? ;)

    Honestly, I am so ADD that sometimes these "scheduled" things drive me crazy. I will forget over and over and over. Sigh. Does the Church just not love us ADD-ers? Lol. I will try to do something on Fridays. If I realize it's Friday. Man, why is growth so hard! :)

  29. Sarah, as someone who must have a touch of ADD myself, I can relate!

  30. Not to nitpick, but ignorance of the law actually IS "an excuse" in Church matters. No worries, AYWH.
    You must have knowledge and full consent of the will to sin.
    Ignorance can even make some mortal sins venial, but there is a moral code imprinted on every man's soul and every man is presupposed to know it. (Thou shall not kill is a good example of this. You are BORN knowing it is wrong to take the life of another.)
    But we're not talking about killing, we're talking about an exhortation to remember the sacrifice of Christ on the day He died. This has been the practice since the EARLIEST days of Christianity (i.e. "The Church"), and is mentioned in Didache (A.D. 100), the writings of Clement of Alexandria (early 2nd C.), and Tertullian.
    WE sacrifice (albeit small and pathetic sacrifices) because it's the day of the Supreme Sacrifice of Christ.
    Period, end of story.

    See also CCC 1854-1869, available online by Googling.

  31. Leila!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What I don't know won't kill me!!!!!!!!!

  32. Venial sin can be committed in ignorance. Mortal sin requires full knowledge but not venial. As a priest explained it to me, as adult Catholics we are required to know our Faith. If we weren't well taught we need to study (but then again we need to study anyway because there's always so much more to learn!) Invincible ignorance would be a separate case but if we're here on the internet (where there is a plethora of knowledge at our fingertips) that wouldn't apply to us. :-)

    Now, grave matter can be venial when committed without full knowledge (contraception for example) but it's still sin. [CCC 1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.]

  33. Here's my recent offering on mortal vs. venial sin, FYI.

    Thanks for the clarification, ladies. And yes, we can still commit sin in ignorance. But it would not be mortal for the soul... Ignorance would mitigate a serious matter down to a venial matter.

  34. Perhaps I misunderstood (I'm not great at making sense of Jimmy Akin and his circuitous answers, though I am a great fan of his and he has personally answered a few theological questions of mine in the past) but...

    Some brave soul want to put this in plain language?


  35. Cathy, I'm going to post an update! Thanks!!

  36. I think it's still a good practice because Lent is around the corner ;) Not really but you know what I mean....And I always fail miserably at lent and I think it is because I don't do anything consistent like this during the year so it will be a way to work on it.....Get myself in the habit and hopefully graces will build my preserverance.....

  37. Just a comment on the update...the USCCB is NOT a Magisterial body. The individual bishops have that charism, but NOT the USCCB. I promise I'm not a crazy schismatic (I realize that's what I sound like!), but I learned that watching EWTN. :)

  38. I agree with you Anon, I think that fasting from meat is still something every Catholic should strive to do. Here is South Lousiana that doesn't always mean sacrifice as we love our seafood, so cracking open a can of tuna seems fitting as a true sacrifice over grilled chicken or steak. We have always given up meant on Fridays and Grant's family does Wednesday's and Friday's.

    I think the reasoning behind the Bishops "urging" sacrifice in general instead of meat in particular was to promote more spirituality and personal holiness but alas it's only stopped most people from have any clue that Friday is supposed to be a day of penance in the first place. Sadly most Catholics have no idea that in Lent for instance, eating meat on Friday is a sin.

    A side note, as a teenager I used to joke with mom that we could eat at Taco Bell on Friday's and even eat their meat as it was likely soy anyway with no real meat in it. Nice try but my argument never worked!

  39. Barbie, funny story! And I agree, it was a mistake to lift the obligation.

    Anonymous, it's true that a national bishops conference has no magisterial or infallible authority, but each individual bishop does have authority over certain disciplines (binding and loosing) in his own diocese.

  40. PS: Just to clarify... It is my opinion that the bishops should not have lifted the obligation. Since days of fasting and abstinence are a discipline and not a doctrine, there is no inherent "truth" either way. It's up to the Church to decide. I defer to the decision, even though I would have gone another way.

    I hope that makes sense. :)

  41. Thank goodness you clarified. I have NEVER heard, from any of our good Orthodox priests, that this is a sin. Phew! BUT, definitely a good reminder to do something.

  42. So if this was a USCCB decision does the rest of the world still abstain on Fridays?
    (Clue me in, worldly Catholics!)

    I wonder if that's why in places with large immigrant populations (like Chicago for instance) every Friday menu at every restaurant has at least one fish dish (including public school menus) and the "Friday Special" is ALWAYS either seafood or vegetarian?

    Restaurants like McD's and Taco Bell go nuts during Lent advertising (on both TV and in print ads and in-store advertising) "Lenten Specials" on Friday and this is the ONLY time of year McD's brings back their Double Filet O'Fish.
    That always makes me smile - I grew up in the South, a Catholicism desert and this just reminds me that I'm surrounded by Catholicism now.

  43. @Cathy, it would depend on what the bishops of other countries have decided in regards to the Friday penance.

    Honestly it's quite confusing and I am not at all sure who is right. I would generally trust Jimmy Akin but there's seems to be quite a few differing opinions and the whole thing seems ambiguous at best.

    I am scratching my head on thus one. Personally I have no problem with just continuing our family practice but my issue is that I publish a calendar/planner and I include Friday Abstinence reminders on it. Now I am wondering if that's right?

  44. Interesting discussion!

    The USCCB did/does have the authority in the US to lift the legal obligation to abstain from meat. Whether they should have done so and what they should have replaced the discipline with is a matter for discussion. In 1966 in the document On Penance and Abstinence, they did in fact remove the *legal* obligation (under the pain of sin) for Catholics in the US to abstain from meat on Friday. However, they then go on and rather than substituting like-for-like, they merely suggest, recommend, exhort, encourage (choose your word...but never clearly DEMAND) to substitute another form of penance on Fridays throughout the year.

    IMO, it's a blatant omission on the part of the bishops and the language they use in the document requires one with a Canon Law degree to pick through the wording to find what their true intent was.

    I think the reason that there is so much confusion--and indeed, differing opinions about the interpretation of the USCCB's "clarification" on abstinence from meat on Fridays--is that the bishops, frankly, did a poor job in wording their position and (as we've seen here in Leila's com-box) carrying it out and educating their flock.

  45. FTR...we abstain from meat on all Fridays.

  46. What a great idea, Leila! I was wondering where everyone "was" on Friday since I'm just getting to reading this now. Mrs. Mike's explanation was very clear and what I was taught on the matter. Great discussion.

  47. Michelle,
    Our parish calendar includes it and it reads in the explanation of abbreviations, etc:

    The dark fish indicates days of OBLIGATORY abstinence from meat; the shaded fish indicates days of OBLIGATORY abstinence from meat or OBLIGATORY substitution of some other sacrifice; the unshaded fish indicates days of RECOMMENDED (formerly obligatory) abstinence from meat.

    Here's what it says under "Fast And Abstinence"...

    The Church's current regulations in the US require fasting and abstinence from meat on Ash Wed. and Good Friday; abstinence from meat on the Fridays of Lent, and abstinence from meat OR some other penitential or charitable work on every non-Lenten Friday of the year, unless Friday falls on a solemnity. (This calendar notes those few instances when a Friday falls on a solemnity.) Abstinence is binding from age 14; fasting is binding from age 18 until age 59.

    According to the Church's law, the 'substantial observance' of Fridays as days of penance, whether by abstinence or in other ways is a 'grave obligation.' (Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini, 1966 Norm II, 2.

    for the record, on our parish calendar, any given normal Friday has a shaded fish.

    Hope that helps.


PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest.