Well, let's first discuss the precepts involved here:
CCC 2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.
The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.
Can. 920 §1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year.
§2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.
Code of Canon Law 920What Easter Duty is NOT
So, first off we must understand that "Easter Duty" is NOT merely the requirement to go to Mass once a year at Eastertide. This is a misnomer held by many a Catholic who doesn't really know their faith. Many "Catholics" show up for Mass once per year on Easter Sunday (some go twice per year with Easter and Christmas), my challenge to those was posted in 2006, (click here). Easter Duty does not imply that Catholics are only required to attend Mass once per year! Those who think this way are ignoring the First Precept, wherein faithful Catholics are required to participate in Mass on ALL SUNDAYS and Holy Days of Obligation. To only go to Mass once per year grossly ignores the First Precept.
What Easter Duty IS
Easter Duty refers to the Third Precept, mentioned above. It is the requirement to receive the Eucharist at least once during the Easter Season. In years past reception of the Eucharist was not an every Sunday affair and especially not daily reception - as many modern Catholics are accustomed to. Reception of Eucharist could be once per quarter, once per 6 months or even once per year. The Church decreed that faithful Catholics must receive Eucharist at least once during the season of Easter, or Eastertide.
What is Eastertide?
The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts through Pentecost Sunday. There's no rush to get ones Easter Duty done on Easter Sunday. You have from the First Mass of Easter, during the Easter Vigil, through the last Mass of Pentecost Sunday.
To summarize - faithful Catholics are required to attend and participate in Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation (the First Precept). At least once per year, during Eastertide, faithful Catholics are to receive the Eucharist (the Third Precept). In order to licitly receive the Eucharist, faithful Catholics must be spiritually prepared, that is, they cannot have mortal sin on their soul (to not fulfill the First Precept not attending Mass every Sunday is a mortal sin), thus the necessity to go to Confession prior to Eucharist arises, and we are required to confess our sins at least once per year too (the Second Precept). So the "Easter Duty" or "Easter Obligation" is to receive Eucharist at least once between the First Mass of Easter (during Easter Vigil) and the final Mass on Pentecost Sunday.
Let us begin with the basics, and then get into the Church teaching and Church Law on the matter.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting can be done in many ways, from complete abstinence from all foods and drinks, except water; or it can be as defined in the Latin Church practice of only having one full meal and two smaller snacks – and the two smaller snacks cannot, if combined, be as much as the whole meal.
What Is Abstinence?
Abstinence is the giving up of something. If one abstains from meat, then they are to eat no meat at all. Fish and seafood are not considered “meat” in this sense in the Latin tradition.
What Is Penance?
A penance is the offering up of something to God.
What Does the Church Require of Faithful Catholics?
All Faithful Catholics are to observe some sort of penance on ALL Fridays throughout the year, not just the Fridays during Lent. Unfortunately many, if not most, Catholics are unaware that this is still part of Canon Law and is a mortal sin to deliberately avoid doing penance of ALL Fridays.
Code of Canon Law (1983): Canon 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.
So, unless a solemnity falls on a Friday, all Latin Rite Catholics are still bound to observe this penance on ALL Fridays, not just those during Lent. And actually, during Lent the obligation is still abstinence from meat, no substitution is allowed as is throughout the rest of the year.
Is It Still Considered to be a Mortal Sin to Reject This Precept?
When I first wrote the initial article, I caught a bit of flack from fellow Catholics who did not believe that not adhering to this precept was a mortal sin. Personally, I could not see how it was not, but one of my acquaintances has contacts at the Vatican and was about to visit there again so she said she would show my article to some of the “higher-ups” there for their opinion. Their first comment to her was, “how long has this person who wrote this been a priest?” I was flattered, she was impressed. In answer to her question, challenging my position that it was still a mortal sin was to look at Paenitemini, Issued by Pope Paul VI on February 17, 1966. That document can be found at:
In that document, Pope Paul VI says:
Therefore, the following is declared and established:
- By divine law all the faithful are required to do penance.
- The prescriptions of ecclesiastical law regarding penitence are totally reorganized according to the following norms:
- The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation through-out the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of "Grande Quaresima" (Great Lent), according to the diversity of the rite. Their substantial observance binds gravely.
- Apart from the faculties referred to in VI and VIII regarding the manner of fulfilling the precept of penitence on such days, abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation, while abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday or, according to local practice, on the first day of 'Great Lent' and on Good Friday
- The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.
- The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing- -as far as quantity and quality are concerned -- approved local custom.
- To the law of abstinence those are bound who have completed their 14th year of age. To the law of fast those of the faithful are bound who have completed their 21st year and up until the beginning of their 60th year. As regards those of a lesser age, pastors of souls and parents should see to it with particular care that they are educated to a true sense of penitence.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law relaxes a bit the rule that the abstinence must be from meat, and while it can be (and should be, in my humble opinion) still be abstinence from meat – it can be something else as per ones Episcopal Conference. It must also be noted that Paenitemini has never been abrogated by a later pope.
In short - we must observe some sort of penance on EVERY Friday, throughout the year, not merely during Lent. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday that penance must include fasting and abstinence from meat. For a Catholic to knowingly and willingly not observe the precepts involved here - it is a mortal sin. Any Catholic reading this article cannot claim ignorance to the precepts - and if they doubt what I've said - I urge them to research it themselves.
I also urge my fellow Catholics to return to the tradition of giving up meat on all Fridays throughout the year. It once was very symbolic of the Catholic Faith and was so prevalent that many restaurants would offer a special "fish fry" on Fridays - and though most Catholics do not practice this anymore - the secular tradition of the Friday Fish Fry has remained.
Does the name "Friday" relate to the Fish Fry?
Well, though it sounds nice - actually, no there is no relation.
Please feel free to add comments and thoughts to this posting.
The name Friday comes from the Old English frigedæg, meaning the day of Frige the Anglo-Saxon form of Frigg, a West Germanic translation of Latin dies Veneris, "day (of the planet) Venus." However, in most Germanic languages the day is named after Freyja—such as Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German, Freyjudagr in Old Norse, Vrijdag in Dutch, Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish—but Freyja and Frigg are frequently identified with each other.The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris, "day (of the planet) Venus" (a translation of Greek Aphrodites hemera) such as vendredi in French, venerdì in Italian, viernes in Spanish, and vineri in Romanian.
Question: I am wondering about how many apologists (as well as Church Doctors) use the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel to illustrate the Immaculate Conception. He says she is "full of grace." St. Alphonsus Ligouri, in his fantastic work "The Glories of Mary," argues that this illustrates the Immaculate Conception. However, later on in the Acts of the Apostles (6:8), St. Stephen is described as being full of grace as well. The Vulgate's Latin is very similar in both situations. Thus, one could argue that the Archangel's greeting to Our Lady proves nothing, since the same phrase is used on St. Stephen. How would one respond to this?
First of all, Acts 6:8 does not describe St. Stephen as "full of grace" (past-perfect tense). Rather, Stephen is described as ".filled with grace and power was working great wonders and signs among the people." In other words, it is a simple present tense. More on this in a moment. Secondly, the Greek of Acts 6:8 is dramatically different from the Greek of Luke 1:28, which describes Mary as "full of grace." In Luke 1:28, Mary is called "Kecharitomenae" --past-perfect tense, and literally translated as "perfectly graced." In Acts 6:8, Stephen is described as "pleres charitos" --present tense, and literally translated as "filled with grace." Thirdly, and directly connected to this, is the fact that Luke 1:28's expression "full of grace" ("gratia plena" in Latin) is a Latinism created by St. Jerome via his Vulgate translation. The Greek itself of Luke 1:28 makes no literal reference to being "full" of anything. Rather, as I said, the Greek term ("Kecharitomenae") literally means "perfectly graced" or "completed in grace," and so, from the point of view of the original Greek, there is simply no comparison between Luke 1:28 and Acts 6:3 at all. Fourthly, and as I mentioned above, Luke 1:28's "Kecharitomenae" is in the past-perfect tense. In this, it is a term exclusive to Luke 1:28, and so exclusive to Mary. No one else in the Bible is described in this way in regard to grace. And this becomes especially striking when we compares it to verses like Ephesians 1:6 and Ephesians 2:8, where Scripture speaks of Baptized Christians as being "graced" ("a charie toson" --past tense), but never "perfectly graced" or "completed in grace" ("kecharitomenae" --past perfect tense). And lastly, the most strinking difference between Acts 6:3 and Luke 1:28 is that, in Luke 1:28, Mary is being called "Kecharitomenae" (that is "Full of grace" or "Perfectly graced") as a proper name! It is amazing how people always overlook that. Unlike Stephen in Acts 6:8, who is merely being described as "filled with grace and power" (and merely at a given moment), Mary is being called - and not only called - but hailed by an angel as "Full of grace" / "Perfectly graced." And we all know the importance of names in Scripture, right? So, "Kecharitomenae" describes Mary's very nature because it is presented as her name: "Chaire, Kecharitomenae" ---literally: "Hail, Full of grace." And this is the very same term ("chaire" --"hail") that the soldiers use to mock Jesus in John 19:3 ("Hail, King of the Jews"). In other words, a term reserved for royalty. And so, here, an angel --a supposedly superior being --is addressing this Galilean maiden with the words, "Hail, Full of grace." Very powerful stuff; and St. Alfonso Liguori was right to boast about it (albeit, as he does, in a very "flowery" and poetic way).
While on vacation in Rome , I noticed a marble column in St. Peter's with a golden telephone on it. As a young priest passed by, I asked who the telephone was for. The priest told me it was a direct line to heaven, and if I'd like to call, it would be a thousand dollars. I was amazed, but declined the offer.
Throughout Italy, I kept seeing the same golden telephone on a marble column. At each, I asked about it and the answer was always the same: It was a direct line to heaven and I could call for a thousand dollars.
I finished my tour in Ireland. I decided to attend Mass at a local village church. When I walked in the door I noticed the golden telephone. Underneath it there was a sign stating: "DIRECT LINE TO HEAVEN: 25 cents." "Father," I said, "I have been all over Italy and in all the cathedrals I visited, I've seen telephones exactly like this one. But the price is always a thousand dollars. Why is it that this one is only 25 cents?" The priest smiled and said, "Darlin', you're in Ireland now. It's a local call."
Happy St. Patrick's Day, A wee bit early is ok!!!
May the good earth be soft under you
when you rest upon it,
and may it rest easy over you when,
at the last, you lay out under it,
And may it rest so lightly over you
that your soul may be out
from under it quickly,
and up, and off,
And be on its way to God.
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...
In Washington state, the state I hesitate to say is where I was born and lived in until I was 24, the elections were being tainted by anti...
Is Sola Scriptura Self Refuting? So goes the title of an article by Steve Hays on Triablogue. The real problem with defining sola scrip...
Well, it's been a tumultuous 2 weeks for me. A week ago Monday I had a colonoscopy - and the doctor found a cancerous growth in my colon...