Friday, April 8, 2016
Friday Penance: Still Required in Eastertide

Abstinence Required In Pascaltide

Friday is the day in which we commemorate Our Lord's passion and death. As Catholics, we are still bound to abstain from meat each Friday of the entire year, not just in Lent. This is required during the season of Pascaltide. This is affirmed even in the modern 1983 Code of Canon Law - all Fridays of the entire year are days of penance (with few exceptions). There can be no doubt that Catholics must be informed that Friday abstinence is not to be confided to Lent only. Failing to observe Friday penance is a mortal sin, as affirmed by multiple pontiffs.

Abstinence on Easter Friday

How should we treat abstinence specifically on Friday in the Octave of Easter (i.e. Easter Friday)? The 1917 Code of Canon Law stipulated that the requirement to abstain from meat (i.e. Friday penance) was required each and every Friday of the year unless that particular Friday was a Holy Day of Obligation outside of Lent: 

"On [Sundays] or feasts of precept, the law of abstinence or of abstinence and fast or of fast only ceases, except during Lent, nor is the vigil anticipated; likewise it ceases on Holy [Saturday] afternoon" (1917 Code, Canon 1252 § 4). [Translation taken from THE 1917 OR PIO-BENEDICTINE CODE OF CANON LAW in English Translation by Dr. Edward Peters]

Easter Friday is not a feast of precept (i.e., a Holy Day of Obligation), and neither is any Friday in the Pascal Season between Easter Sunday and Trinity Sunday. The 1917 Code of Canon Law outlined the rules of fasting and abstinence in Canons 1250-1254. Before 1917, even Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent required explicitly papal dispensation or else Friday abstinence would be observed even on days of precept.

The 1983 Code and the myriad of weakening dispensations offered in the 20th century has led to a continual decline in penance and devotion. Due to the errors and ambiguities in the 1983 Code, it must be rejected, and the older Code must be used. One of these issues is the unprecedented novelty of solemnities like Easter Friday breaking the immemorial tradition of Friday abstinence. The notion of day's liturgical rank abrograting abstinence has no basis in Church practice prior to 1983. 

It is essential for all Roman Catholics to continue abstaining from meat even on Easter Friday.


Friday abstinence is still the Catholic practice throughout Eastertide, and it is the Church's Law. Let us not be so keen to forget our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross. Pray and do penance on this and all Fridays. It is after all, on Friday that our Blessed Lord redeemed us. Let us never forget His Sacrifice on that first Good Friday.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

4 comment(s):

del_button April 24, 2020 at 5:12 PM
Clay Bahl said...

There isn't ambiguity, however, whether the Friday in the Octave of Easter is a day of abstinence.

"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 [...]" (Source:

According to the Liturgical Calendar: "Although not given the title of Solemnity, '[t]he first eight days of Easter Time constitute the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord' (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, no. 24)." (Source:

Now one might say that on account of Canon 1250, the day remains penitential nonetheless. One might also say that the very idea of being a Solemnity, which removes the need to abstain on that day, similarly removes the need to do penance. Perhaps there is something which speaks to that, but I am not aware of it.

del_button April 8, 2021 at 5:23 PM
Matthew said...

The 1983 Code was promulgated by a heretic and is impregnated with the spirit of modernism. We must reject it until a future time when sanity and order is restored to the Church. Keep the stricter (though not perfect) 1917 Code as we must use caution during these unprecedented times.

del_button April 9, 2021 at 6:16 AM
Jenn said...

Thank you for this! Every time I hear that penances are being dropped, I go back to 1917 before all the mess. You’re right that Easter Friday is NOT a holy day of obligation, even tho it is a first class feast. The ranking of “Solemnity” comes from post Vat II so we cannot apply it here.

del_button April 14, 2023 at 7:44 AM
Matthew said...

Yet even 1917 liberalized too much about fasting! Please see the articles and book mentioned here:

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