It’s a dirty little secret. . .that shouldn’t be.
Did you know that every single Friday of the year is a day of penance?
You probably are done with the drudgery of Lenten penances. I get it. Me, too. I was’t even great at it during Lent, but Friday penance isn’t just for Lent, y’all.
A little over 50 years ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (in concert with Canon 1253 of the Code of Canon Law) opted to allow forms of penance other than fasting and abstinence from meat on Fridays outside of Lent. They did not lift the obligation to observe Friday as a day of penance, however.
In the past, Christians would abstain from meat on all Fridays—not just during Lent.
Today we have options, when Lenten obligations are not in play. For instance, if I want a big old bacon cheese burger on a sunny summer Friday afternoon, I can do it! But, Mother Church still nudges me to remember Friday as a day of penance during which I am guided to offer extra works of charity, acts of piety, or other forms of penance to commemorate the Passion and Death of the Lord.
We should listen to our Mother!
There is so much beauty and wisdom in this traditional Christian practice. As each Sunday is a “little Easter”—the Lord’s Day—on which we are meant to rejoice and rest, each Friday is a “little Good Friday.” These pious observances (and obedience) orient us. They keep us in a micro-liturgical cycle that informs our behaviors and forms our hearts. They order our days in a way that keeps us in the constant contemplation of the most basic teaching of the Christianity:
Jesus died and rose to save us from our sin; He is our salvation.
But, Mother Church is a very good mother! She is as merciful and kind as any natural mother who sees her child needs a break every now and then. Whenever a liturgical Solemnity falls on a Friday, we are off the hook! Today is one of those Fridays. Happy Friday of the Octave of Easter, Easter People!
Today is truly the day the Lord has made, so no penance today!