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Friday Penance Is (Truly) Back!

Friday Fare

Some of you might remember my reflection on Abstinence of Fridays of some time ago, and on the slow movement toward a full restoration of the practice of some time later.

It is now with great pleasure that I can inform those who don’t know already that it has been now decided (for the UK) that Friday penance (actually never abolished, though its existence has been carefully hidden from your sight by the western Catholic clergy) is going to be reintriduced in full style, that is: by making clear that the standard way of making friday penance is by abstaining from meat.

The new rule will get in force starting with the 16th September. This basically means – if the new rules are made known and explained to the faithful – the return to the good old days in just a couple of years.

Also interesting are the motivation the bishops have given for this – semel in anno – very laudable initiative: 1) the recovery of Catholic identity and practice, and 2) the common celebration of friday penance.

As to 1), one thinks that the old sixty-eighter generation must be rather bewildered at the concept of Catholic practices being reintroduced because they are specifically Catholic. This really doesn’t square with the ecu-maniacal soup they have been eating for too many decades. I doubt that even a joint will be enough for them to forget the crude reality of the irresistible return of traditional Catholic practices. I do hope they’ll enjoy the salmon, though.

As to 2), this is interesting in its social relevance. If this practice is made known and the faithful regularly reminded about its observance, in just a few years you’ll have every biggish office, association etc. where Catholics are clearly recognisable. This is a bit like Ash Wednesday, where you see in the underground the people with the ashes on their forefront and you either know, or are curious…. In time, those standing out for this strange behaviour will become more and more, one question will lead to another and, no doubt, many a soul will be saved as a result.

I warmly welcome this development and didn’t want to miss one of the very rare occasions when our bishops act in a decisive, laudable and even slightly uncomfortable way.


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