Friday, June 7, 2024
Is Abstinence Obligatory on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart?

As a reminder, the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which always falls on a Friday, is still an obligatory day of abstinence. As Catholics, we are still bound to abstain from meat each Friday of the entire year, not just in Lent. We are still bound to abstain from meat each Friday of the entire year, not just in Lent. 

Abstinence Traditionally Required on All Fridays

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:

"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]

The 1917 Code introduced the radical notion that a Holy Day of Obligation would eo ipso overrule the requirement of Friday abstinence for any Holy Days of Obligation outside of Lent. Previously, the only day that would automatically abrogate the requirement of Friday abstinence was Christmas Day (December 25th), the exception of which went back to 1216 AD. Before the time of St. Pius X, the Holy Father required a dispensation from Friday abstinence on any other Holy Day of Obligation. The Feast of the Sacred Heart, which was established on the Universal Calendar in 1856, is not a feast of precept (i.e., a Holy Day of Obligation).

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart Focuses on The Need for Reparation 

Let us never forget that the purpose of the Feast of the Sacred Heart is one focused on penance and reparation. When so many use the modernist 1983 Code to excuse themselves from Friday abstinence, let us, faithful to Tradition, keep today as one of abstinence in reparation to the Sacred Heart as the collect prayer for this feastday urges:

O God, through Your mercy we possess the treasures of Your love in the Sacred Heart of Your Son, the same Sacred Heart which we wounded by our sins. May our honor, devotion, and love make reparation to Him for our faults. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord...

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

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