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As we all know, non-Lenten Fridays have traditionally been called "Fish Fridays" due to the canonical injunction to abstain from meat, but in the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1250-1253) the abstinence from meat has been broadened to include substitute penances such as "works of charity and exercises of piety." 

What specifically is meant by "works of charity and exercises of piety"?  Have the bishops ever prescribed or suggested any concrete counsel or advice as to what constitutes these substitutions? 
I wish I could give you an example of a bishop or any other clergy in the NO church recommending observance of ANYTHING on Fridays.

I don't mean to by cynical, but the USCCB document from 1966 that lifted the "Fish Fridays" rule in the United States had similar language, encouraging substitutes for the traditional practices, allegedly in an attempt reawaken long dormant sincerity in the intent of the observance.  I for one have never heard any NO priest give any indication whatsoever that Fridays are any different than any other day.

The 1966 document can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/lent/2008/Penance_a...inence.pdf

This document in fact shocked me the first time I read it, since it actually makes pretty strong arguments in favor of abstaining from meat on Fridays, while simultaneously lifting the requirement.  Go figure.

Oremus  :pray:
(11-20-2009, 09:43 PM)Miquelot Wrote: [ -> ]As we all know, non-Lenten Fridays have traditionally been called "Fish Fridays" due to the canonical injunction to abstain from meat, but in the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1250-1253) the abstinence from meat has been broadened to include substitute penances such as "works of charity and exercises of piety." 

What specifically is meant by "works of charity and exercises of piety"?  Have the bishops ever prescribed or suggested any concrete counsel or advice as to what constitutes these substitutions? 

Nope, but just do what works for you.  For example if you smoke cigarettes try to have only five that day (or even none at all!), or if you enjoy some alcohol in the evening try abstaining; pray extra, say a rosary on that day if you don't do so regularly, etc.

Not eating meat is a good standby though, can't hurt to stick with it.
I personally abstain from meat on Fridays at least 90% of the time. If for some reason I dont on a certain Friday, I say an extra rosary.
It's more prudent to keep the traditional practice. Works of charity and exercises of piety are laudable and should be done every day of the week. However, Fridays are especially dedicated to penance and we should strive to observe the traditional abstinence from meat even if the N.O. Church has unsurprisingly lifted that restriction.
Ok, but which traditional practice is the most prudent--why the one in place just before 1966?

Here's the thing: it seems historically, the flexibility in the Friday penance is just another incremental step in a centuries long process relaxing the fasting and penitential practices of the Church. I've been reading this old book on indulgences from 1895 by the consultor to the congregation dealing with them under Leo XIII and St. Pius X. In it, to explain indulgences, he first gives an extensive history of the fasts and penances required by the Church. He notes that the rules in 1895 are incredibly lax compared to the past and he seems a bit at a loss to explain a good reason why. Basically he says we shouldn't presume to judge the Church like the Jansenists did who said the ancient disciplines were the only valid ones, but if an explanation must be given, it is due to the lack of fervor of later generations who can't handle such discipline and also that parents generally treat the youngest children with the least harshness. He also compared the later generations to those worker's who enter the vineyard last and get paid for almost no work.

The part about fervor makes the most sense to me. I think that's the best way to look at how to live this law. The brethren with strong fervor can do more than the minimum, while the weak brethren will not be required under pain of mortal sin to do too much. In that sense, any particular historical snapshot of Church discipline would not be the most prudent for all souls, but it would vary based on individual fervor and spiritual need and ability. For example, while Friday abstinence may be appropriate for one soul, another might appropriately also strive to observe the Wednesday abstinence of days gone by, whereas St. Catherine of Sienna practically abstained from all food period. Is that maybe a better way at looking at it?

Also, just for curiosity's sake, the universal rule is still abstinence on all Fridays unless the Episcopal Conference of a particular locale says otherwise. I'm not sure what the Conferences of countries other than the USA have said on this, if anything. Anyone know?

edit: just to add, Bl. Raymond of Capua, in discussing the different fasting habits of various saints (his primary subject, St. Catherine of Sienna being one of the greatest fasters of all), made it a special point to note that "sanctity is not measured by fasting, but by holy charity." I think that's always something to remember when deciding what kind of fast or abstinence or other work to perform.

Thats a very well thought out post, and while reading it, 1 thought kept coming. The power of binding and loosining that Jesus gave to the Apostles, this applies to many things as a priest told me. It seems the Church has the power to modify certain things, certain being the keyword. My understanding is the laws the Church made are the ones she has the power the modify, not the one's Jesus gave, for example, the 10 commandments. Indulgences would seem to fall under this category, as well as fasting. A ST PiusX priest told me that also applies to annulments.
(11-21-2009, 01:39 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: [ -> ]It's more prudent to keep the traditional practice. Works of charity and exercises of piety are laudable and should be done every day of the week. However, Fridays are especially dedicated to penance and we should strive to observe the traditional abstinence from meat even if the N.O. Church has unsurprisingly lifted that restriction.

Why is it, in this case, more prudent to keep the traditional practice? As I have said elsewhere, I think that this is actually quite a good reform (pretty much the only laudable post-Conciliar disciplinary reform that I can think of), as it reminds the faithful (in theory, at least) that Friday abstinence is supposed to be about penance, not having a Filet-O-Fish instead of a Big Mac with one's fries and Coke.