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Must we abstain from eating meat on Friday in the Octave of Easter?

Must we abstain from eating meat on Friday in the Octave of Easter?

We are now in the Easter Octave – Happy Easter!

Let’s get out in front of this before the calendar clicks over to Friday

Each year I get a question from readers about our obligation to do penance on Friday by abstinence from eating meat during the Octave of Easter.

Here is canon 1251:

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.

The days of the Octave of Easter are celebrated as Solemnities (in the Novus Ordo calendar).    Therefore, there is no canonical obligation for Catholics for the Friday abstinence on this coming Friday.

Note well that the other Fridays of Eastertide are not Solemnities.  The relief from abstinence applies only to the Friday in the Octave of Easter.

BTW… this does not apply to the Octave of Christmas, because the days of that Octave are not counted as “Solemnities” as are those of the Easter Octave.

This is how the 1983 Code of Canon Law handles Friday in the Octave of Easter, and this applies also to those who prefer the Extraordinary Form (which did not have “Solemnities”).

As far as other Fridays are concerned, outside the Octave of Easter or some other Solemnity, you can ask your parish priest to dispense you or commute your act of penance.

Can. 1245 Without prejudice to the right of diocesan bishops mentioned in can. 87, for a just cause and according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop, a pastor [parish priest] can grant in individual cases a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day or a day of penance or can grant a commutation of the obligation into other pious works. A superior of a religious institute or society of apostolic life, if they are clerical and of pontifical right, can also do this in regard to his own subjects and others living in the house day and night.

Abstinence from meat has good reasoning behind it. For some, however, abstinence from other things can be of great spiritual effect.

Certainly you would never abstain from reading this blog… or from ordering…

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