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Please, bishops, make fasting/abstinence on Fridays MANDATORY again December 13, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

Well……I was going to do a post on the bishop’s “new” initiative to deal with many threats to the Faith, calling on the faithful to – voluntarily, of course, they couldn’t possibly demand anything! – engage in more acts of fasting, prayer, and penance for the coming year.  But then I thought, this story seems familiar. And then it seemed the dates were wrong.  So, I realized that a blogger got a bit tripped up and was posting the announcement the USCCB made in 2012 – last year – as new news!

And I remembered this effort was given a whole bunch of coverage as part of the Year of Faith, this was going to anchor the struggle against the HHS Mandate, fake homosexual marriage, the whole kit and kaboodle.

But as I read through the list of recommended actions – voluntary actions! – I wondered, how many Catholics actually saw more than 2 of these in their own parishes?  Here is the list, again, from last year, this is a dead, already past initiative:

1. Starting with the Sunday after Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on or near the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November 2013, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.  [Did this happen?  I know it happened in my particular parish, and in a few others, but did you experience this in your parish or Cathedral, and if so, was it focused on this “religious liberty” misnomer or was it part of just a regular routine of Adoration?]

2. Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the nation. [No way of knowing, but I sure didn’t see this highly encouraged at the parish level]

3. At Sunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include specific intentions for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad. [Cannot respond, the TLM does not have this mess]

4. Abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays are encouraged for the intention of the protection of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the Church. [More on this later!]

5. The celebration of a second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 is being planned. This Fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services…. [Well, this did happen in some places, but it was much more subdued than in 2012]

————End Quote———–

I want to focus on just one bit, but I’d appreciate hearing your feedback on whether your parish/Diocese highlighted any of the above as the bishop’s desired.

Here is my focus – can we please make Friday abstinence/fasting MANDATORY throughout the entire year again?!?  Why do you insist on treating us as wimps?  Acknowledge our fallen natures, and the fact that most people are lazy, and make it mandatory, on pain of grave sin, to eat flesh meat on Friday!  Most of us just sit at desks all day!  We don’t engage in the back-breaking labor of our forefathers, and yet THEY somehow managed to fast and abstain a heckuva lot more than WE do!  There is absolutely NOTHING in “modern society” that makes fasting/abstinence more difficult than it used to be, aside from the ridiculous super-over-abundance of food we have constantly available.  When I think of how hard people in prior generations worked, and how they fasted and abstained so much more than we do, I am amazed at my own softness!   And let’s make the pre-Eucharistic fast at least 3 hours again, huh?  At least then, we can’t go from downing a taco in our car 5 minutes before Mass and then receiving the Blessed Lord 55 minutes later.



1. Bill Deville - December 13, 2013

You have something against taco’s?
Just kidding. I agree with the fasting. It’s how self control becomes stronger in all of us.

2. Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - December 13, 2013

I would also suggest that Faith of Our Fathers be sung at the end of every Sunday Mass from the first Sunday after Corpus Christi to the last Sunday prior to Advent. And if the Bishops wanted to really kick it up a notch, they should write a letter to the faithful (which would be read in every parish) explaining the significance of the hymn and why it is pertinent today. They could also encourage that one Sunday a month the Homily be on the persecutions and martyrs of various periods in the Church’s history: Mexico in the 1920s, Japan in the late 16th to early 17th centuries, Henry VIII’s reign in England, the French Revolution, Iraq and Syria today, etc. Catholics have so little knowledge of their own history and heritage that they can’t even comprehend the current persecution that is now underway.

3. Woody - December 14, 2013

I go either way on this. I didn’t know fasting was mandatory on Fridays. As for abstinence, it has never been a problem for me to eat non-meat items on any day of the week let alone Fridays. I love fish. Thus, no penance for me to eat those scrumptious items that come out of the water. So, what do I do now? I still eat fish on Fridays(old habits are very hard to break, especially when you enjoy them) and for an act of penance I fast on Fridays. I do think that we should do some act of penance on Fridays but should it be one particular act? The problem, as I see it, was that when they got rid of mandatory no meat on Fridays, they did not tell us that we still had to do some act or form of penance. They allowed the laity to act under the false assumption that we did not have to do any penance on Fridays. One more item to remind the laity, forcefully, during homilies.

4. MMC - December 14, 2013

Yet again US bishops going against Canon Law:


Canon Law states abstinence and penance for EVERY Friday of the year with fasting and abstinence for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Agree with you that we are weak schmucks. If the Catholic leadership ran the American military, we would be speaking Chinese right now. God bless~

5. E. Davison - December 14, 2013

Yes, We need this. A lot of people agree. Have you see the poll on this on the sidebar at Fr. Z’s Blog?

Should the US Bishops have us return to obligatory “meatless Fridays” during the whole year and not just during Lent?

Yes, and I think this is very important. (74%, 19,804 Votes)
Yes, I guess so. (10%, 2,718 Votes)
No, I hesitate about such a move. (7%, 1,793 Votes)
No, this would be a really bad idea. (5%, 1,322 Votes)
I don’t care. (4%, 1,223 Votes)
Total Voters: 26,860

6. Jtal - December 14, 2013

@Kevin Shook – the only problem with your suggestion is that it’d have to be “Faith of our Ancestors” to match our emasculated lectionary (“your ancestors ate manna in the desert ….”)

7. john - December 14, 2013

Regarding the Friday fasting, not a peep at the parish level. But I have signed up for the Friday fasting text messages from the USCCB. They provide a decent intention every Thursday around six to get ready to pray for… thankfully, nothing liberal progressive yet

8. Steve - December 14, 2013

#2: “Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary…”

During the sermon a few weeks ago at a Dallas parish, the deacon informed us that praying the Rosary had stagnated his prayer life.

He supported his comments in regard to the Holy Rosary via Pope Francis’ then-recent comments about rote prayers.

9. unknownsaint - December 14, 2013

“if you genuinely wish to attain a high degree of prayer and without falling into the illusions of the devil so common with those who practice mental prayer, say at least five decades of the rosary every day.” st Louis de Montfort

10. Papa - December 14, 2013

Couldn’t disagree more about the mandatory fasting.. it disintegrates into another rule that will be interpreted by most as a mortal sin if I don’t or at best a venial sin. Then the focus will be on sinning again. Fasting was put in place so those would not come to the Eucharist with a full belly from gluttony or from too much drink. The majority of us (99.9%) don’t have that problem. Most of us like a cup of coffe and a small breakfast in the morning with family, to enter into communion with others, before going to Eucharist. Then while at Mass there is the constant checking of the watch and reminder to children “have you fasted for your hour.” This anxiety about the hour replaces ‘I am going to receive Jesus.’ Get rid of all the rules. However if you need rules to love God then put a positive one inplace like suggest catholics go to Mass and actually receive Jesus once a week other than on Sundays, why we could make it a strong suggestion to recevie Jesus on Fridays, that way we are receiving Him and not fretting about fasting from crumbs. What about the office parties with non-catholics who offer you their treats on Fridays. Then you have to decline for religious reasons. Jesus said to eat what others offer you. They feel offended when you decline. Wouldn’t it be better to accept their treats and come into union with them than decline for a religious rule. I’ve been going to daily mass for over 33 years and the biggest pain in the neck is checking the clock down to the second for myself and numerous children if they have fasted. What about suggesting to Catholics that you can have a very light meal and get rid of the fasting if you go to a Mass during the week. Then the focus will be on receiving Jesus and not worrying about whether one has sufficiently fasted. Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind first. Lets move people to this before we bring back clock watching.

LaGallina - December 14, 2013

The Church already did “get rid of all the rules” and completely stopped talking about sin years ago. I have never heard a homily about sin, except once at a Traditional Mass, which I have only attended about a dozen times. Meanwhile my Catholic friends are living with their boyfriends (these are grown ups with children!) then they all receive Communion together on Sunday. And those are the ones who still go to Mass. The vast majority of cradle Catholics I know left the Church long ago. That getting rid of the rules thing isn’t working out so well.

C. E. Turner - December 14, 2013

😦 Kyrie eleison!

john - December 15, 2013

“Then the focus will be on sinning aing” whaaw! Your rrasoning behind the eucharistic fast is so off the mark it hurts …the fast is a self denial, a sacrafice for our Lord. We are about to eat his actual body. The friday meat only and fast is a couple of things. For tlm folks, many of us go to vigil or midnight mass… we neef a three hour fast, or the night before according to Christian doctrine.. not thr watered down faith since the seventies

St. Benedict's Thistle - December 15, 2013

Papa, I hear what you are saying; but your reasoning is exactly what has been implemented (as others have noted) in dioceses around the nation. It has not borne the fruit one would wish for, namely loving God. The opposite has happened, people have forsaken Him.

Why I love religious rules such as fasting and abstinance:

1) It makes me focus more fully on the life of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us.
2) Any anxiety about properly fasting is, for me, indicative of my love for Jesus and concern for my state of mind and preparation for receiving him.
3) Rules usually exist for pertinent reasons. It would be better if the faithful were catechized about the reasoning for the rules, rather than do away with them. Doing away with them has been done, as mentioned. The results, just like any type of abuse, mirror the results of the opposite type of abuse (rules without reason).
4) My husband has had two occasions in the last few months to decline Friday treats and to explain to his co-workers why he abstains. He has also been questioned about why he crosses himself at lunch. People are asking questions about faith in today’s world. By conforming to the world, we are no different and therefore there is no opportunity to share the faith.
5) One thing I have learned, as a recent convert, is that Holy Mother Church is the truest authority on earth of how to live a holy life dedicated to loving God. I would not question Her wisdom of requiring Mass on the day Christ rose from the dead.

tantamergo - December 16, 2013

Thank you. I’ll leave this as a great reply, I don’t need to add much to this.

11. Steve - December 14, 2013

Would the bishops (in the United States) restore Friday abstinence as part of a program to strengthen Catholic identity among (Latin Church) Catholics?

Such a program would prove successful only if the bishops were also determined to…

— Restore beauty and transcendence to our churches.

— Restore Latin to at least the Ordinary of the Mass.

— Feature Gregorian Chant during each Mass.

— Restore the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue.

— End the spectacle of laymen taking control of the Sanctuary during Mass.

Do our bishops intend to move us down that path?


Therefore, I doubt that the restoration of Friday abstinence would go far to restore Catholic identity among (Latin Church) Catholics.

john - December 15, 2013

Do what I do. Intitute it for yorself and tell everyone about it and how when why it changed. Next thing you knou you may have a radtrad community all arround, also wondering why they’ve been lied to for decades

12. Deanna Scholz - December 15, 2013

All great comments…………..we NEED the leadership of our Church to take a stand and ask us no demand us to stand with them. For crying out loud in the 1950’s and 1960’s we had a Catholic Bishop on TV every Sunday evening for many years. He was able to impart much information about our faith and what we truly believed without offending anyone. Many non Catholics watched and learned something about us in an entertaining way. Why? Because Bishop Sheen did not just speak to my parents as Catholics he spoke to them and anyone else who listened as a common sense God loving person that he was. We need someone in our faith communities to stand up and take the bull by the horn again. We also need to tell our Church leaders to stay out of the government handouts and go back to asking us to help the poor. It was always the Churches job and never the governments job to help the poor and needy. The government took it away from us and we allowed it. We were wrong. If we want anything including respect from anyone we need to ask for and expect it. We cannot expect anyone to treat us well if all we do is beat each other up in our own house. The leadership begins at the top, for the moment…………..if the leadership does not step up appropriately then we will be lost in another persecution of the Church, done at our own hand. God gave us the power to love, we gave that power to the government that does not know how to love.

13. Steve - December 15, 2013

Our Churchmen have all but destroyed Catholic identity, at least within the Latin Church.

Said Churchmen have destroyed one Catholic “marker” after another that, prior to the Vatican II Era, had imparted a strong sense of Catholic identity among a good portion of the laity.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, (then-Archbishop) ackowledged that in the following 2011 A.D. newspaper column:

“External Markers of Our Faith”…


With that reality in mind, what would a modern-day Archbishop Sheen have to say, from a Catholic standpoint, that would interest Catholics and/or non-Catholics?

Our Churchmen today ply us with such messages as “who am I to judge”…don’t obsess about abortion, birth control, the sodomization of society.

Other than promoting the Traditional Roman Mass, what could a national Catholic speaker say about liturgy that would interest folks?

Our Churchmen promote banal liturgy…something that has emptied our churches.

Thanks to ecumenism and interreligious “dialogue”, a national Catholic speaker would dare not say anything that would “offend” non-Catholics.

Other than the promotion of the Traditional Roman Mass and Holy Tradition, which few Churchmen promote…things that promote great passion when embraced by a Catholic…

…a national Catholic speaker could not possibly interest Catholics and non-Catholics.

Even Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who has a dynamic personality…who acknowledged that our Catholic “markers” have been shattered…offered the following in his column in question:

“But, what are the external markers that make us stand out?

“Lord knows, there used to be tons of them: Friday abstinence from meat was one of them, but we recall so many others: seriousness about Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; fasting on the Ember Days; saints names for children; confession at least annually; loyal membership in the local parish; fasting for three hours before Holy Communion, just to name a few.

“But, almost all of these external markers are now gone.

“I’m not saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. The toothpaste is probably out of the tube.”

That is the sorry state of Catholicism. The one dynamic Catholic personality that we have, Cardinal Dolan, has concluded that our Catholic identity markers are “probably” long gone.

Therefore, dynamic personality aside, what could a national Catholic speaker today possibly offer to people?

14. TG - December 16, 2013

I didn’t hear about fasting from meat on Friday during the year of faith at our parish but I found out about by accident and made the pledge. I’ve doing this on my own for a couple of year but I would cheat sometimes. This year I didn’t. It was hard because knowing I couldn’t eat meat made me want meat. From what I’ve read the US bishops still say we should do some type of sacrifice on Fridays. As far as Adoration, we have a separate perpetual Adoration chapel next to the church. (I go once or twice a week.) The church has Perpetual Adoration every first Friday in the evening. Our prayers of the faithful always include a statement about life. Compared to other parishes I’ve attended, our prayers are good. I’ve gone to some other churches where I thought they prayers were lame. The rosary is prayed before Mass on Saturday evenings. Maybe one of the Masses on Sunday but not the 11am one.

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