Friday, 30 December 2011

On The Horns Of A Dilemma...

The Bishops of England & Wales have declared that Catholics should abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. This is a very commendable thing for them to have done.

Does the Friday within the Octave of the Nativity count as a "normal" Friday, or, like the Friday within the Easter Octave, is it exempt from the no-meat rule?

This is rather crucial, as I'm going to a party tomorrow night, and I don't like vegetables... or fish... and I suspect that most of the nibbles will be meat-based...

*sigh*

Does anyone know the Canon Law regarding this stuff...?

15 comments:

Clifford Carvalho said...

If this were the Byzantine Rite then yes, the abstinence would be abrogated, since any octave would do that. However, in the Latin Rite, only a I Class Feast (days within an octave counting as feasts) abrogates Friday abstinence. While the Octave of Easter is I Class, the Octave of Christmas is II Class. That means that I'm eating fish tomorrow-and unless the bishops have an indult or loophole I don't know about-so is everyone in England and Wales.

For the record, on the Novus Ordo calendar the two octaves have the same ranks, just with different names (solemnity/feast), so OF and EF are identical on this issue.

Fr said...

It is still Christmas day - conscious excess required !

Why do you think traddies love all those octaves?

Matthaeus said...

Hello Mac,

I am not sure of the status of the Friday within the Octave of the Nativity. The Octave of Christmas is a Priviledged Octave of the third order, renking below that of Easter, Pentecost (first order)and Epiphany and Corpus Christi(second order).

On a more practical note, this might be useful to you -
http://efpastormeritus.blogspot.com/2011/09/obligation-of-friday-abstinence-some_13.html

I was faced with a similar situation just before Christmas, and did not abstain one Friday - a meal had been paid for by others, involved ethnic cuisine with shared courses, and avoiding meat would have meant my having to choose a very limited menu, much of which I would not have liked.

I was also conscious that this was very much an exceptional occasion, and that I had no deliberate intention of avoiding penance (on the day, I made the point of including some extra, penitential, prayers for this reason)- referring to the final sentence of the above reference, I do not believe I sinned by not abstaing on this one Friday.

Hopefully you will get some more advice on this in time. If not, I am sure you will make a good decision about what to do.

In Domino,
Matthaeus.

Society of St. Bede said...

The document linked to above does not mention the other bit of Canon Law applicable... I thought the new code said the abstinence does not apply on 1st Class feasts, which appears to have some basis in Tradition if not the old code of Canon Law;
According to "The Liturgical year, Gueranger" Pope Honorius III (1216) dispensed the law of abstinence if Christmas day falls on a friday. In the ninth century Pope St. Nicholas I dispensed the Bulgarians for Christmas, St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, the Epiphany, the Assumption, St. John the Baptist and SS Peter and Paul.

Unless our archbishop pronounces otherwise, I would suggest that today is a day of abstinence but next Friday is not due to the Feast of the Epiphany.

We could try to ask the Archbishop, but I don't think he will understand the question.

Time to join an Eastern Rite for the day, as long as they are using the Gregorian Calendar!

Mark said...

As Matthæus points out charity can be involved here: if the food is laid on and the dishes meaty, then don't you have a kind of obligation - in charity to your hosts - to partake?

Yorkmum said...

Dear Mac

My husband and I were discussing exactly this topic this morning.

Canon 1251 is the relevant one here "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."

Today is a feast, but not a solemnity and therefore abstinence from meat as laid down by the bishops of E&W is applicable.

That said reading through the link given by Matthaeus, only you can decide on the most appropriate form of penance for you to do today. Q7 and Q11 seem most relevant.

Whatever you do I hope you enjoy the party. : - )

Part-time Pilgrim said...

It's a good question. Surely there are people old enough to remember what the rules were.

Et Expecto said...

It is really only on occasions like this that Friday abstinance is a pennance.

Rev Kurt Barragan said...

The Code of Canon Law provides that "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." (Canon 1251)

In England and Wales, this obligation is to be fulfilled by abstinence from meat.

Today's celebration of the Holy Family is not a solemnity (it has the rank of a feast) so the law of abstinence applies unless a local solemnity (such as the dedication of a church) is being observed.

In other years, the law of abstinence will also bind on the Friday of the Octave because the days within the Octave of Christmas are ranked below feasts but above memorials in the 'Table of Liturgical Days' of the General Roman Calendar.

If observing abstinence would be a particular hardship, you might ask your parish priest to dispense you ("... pastors also for just cause and in accordance with the prescriptions of the Ordinary may grant to individual faithful as well as individual families dispensation or commutation of abstinence and fast into other pious practices." - Paenitemini, VII).

While abstinence might seem at first to be contrary to the festive spirit of the Christmas Octave, it is worth recalling that the Cross is constantly present in the liturgical celebrations of this time (e.g. the martyrdom of St Stephen, the Holy Innocents and St Thomas Becket as well as Simeon's words at the Presentation which are read in the Gospel at today's Mass in the Ordinary Form). The small inconvenience of Friday abstinence offers us an opportunity to be united with that mystery.

Fr Tim Finigan said...

Novus Ordo calendar: Holy Family with the rank of feast

1962 calendar: 6th day within the octave with the rank of 2nd class

pre-62 calendar: Sunday within the octave (anticipated) with the rank of semidouble

I'm afraid none of them gives any excuse for eating meat today. Sorry.

Mac McLernon said...

Wow! It's a while since I've had this many responses to a post. Thanks everyone...

Rev Kurt Barragan - thanks for the Code of Canon Law references... as for asking my PP to dispense the obligation, well, his comment follows yours, and it's pretty clear what his views are... :-)

(as for the "charity" aspect, as it'll be a buffet, I'm pretty sure I can avoid meat without being uncharitable, it was just that I was hoping I wouldn't have to!)

Peter Simpson said...

Move the party to Scotland and then you can feast on some delicious haggis!

Mark said...

Well, aye, veggie haggis...

leutgeb said...

Oh no, the mini beef wellingtons will have to remain untasted, sigh.

Lucky I erred on the side of caution and went for a fishy sandwich for lunch, before this was resolved conclusively.

Fr said...

That bacon sandwich was lovely....

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