Tag Archives: abstinence

Nobody Told Me

The authors serve up a perfect, hip book for youth hungry for truth on sexuality . . .

Nobody Told Me
Regal, 2011. 128 pages, $9.99 paperback

As one of the country’s leading chastity speakers, Stenzel knows that most teens fall into sexual sin because they don’t know the truth. Her book’s subtitle sums up its theme: What You Need to Know About the Physical and Emotional Consequences of Sex Outside of Marriage.

Most regret decisions made in the heat of the moment, not knowing that premarital sex negatively impacts future relationships (and more). The authors help teens make the right choices when it comes to sex.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Spend your Fridays like a Catholic

Catholics are still expected to abstain from meat or make another sacrifice on Fridays . . .

Mike Aquilina

Mike Aquilina

Friday — like Sunday — is never an “ordinary” day. Friday is the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross to atone for our sins. Friday is the day when Jesus won our salvation and made possible our adoption as children of God. Thus, the Church has encouraged us to focus, each Friday, on both gratitude and repentance.

Since Friday is the “anniversary day” of our new life, we should offer extra prayer. We should meditate on the mystery of our redemption — and especially on Christ’s sufferings. When our sinfulness is faced with God’s mercy, the only appropriate response is repentance. It is an action of the will, but it should be accompanied by outward expressions like almsgiving, fasting and acts of piety.

Until recently, it was the law of the Church to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year. Indeed, from the earliest days, the Church has kept Friday as a day of penance. We find this prescribed in one of the most ancient Christian documents, the Didache, composed perhaps within 50 years of Our Lord’s Ascension to heaven.

In 1966, the U.S. bishops removed the requirement for year-round abstinence from meat on Friday. They stated that “the renunciation of the eating of meat is not always and for everyone the most effective means of practicing penance.” In so doing, the bishops gave each of us the responsibility that “we discipline ourselves” with forms of fasting and penance that are most meaningful in our own lives.

Canon Law affirms that Fridays are still days of penance for the whole Church. What we do, however, is up to us. Many families continue to forgo eating meat on Friday — a long-revered custom that we would be wise to make our own. We may make small pilgrimages every Friday to pray at a church across town. Or we may take on special acts of charity.

“It would bring greater glory to God and good to souls,” the bishops wrote, “if Fridays found our people doing volunteer work in hospitals, visiting the sick, serving the needs of the aged and lonely, instructing the young in the faith and participating as Christians in community affairs.”

Mike Aquilina is an award-winning Catholic writer. Regis Flaherty is a prolific writer and consultant. This column is reprinted with permission from their book “The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2000).

Is it a sin to eat meat on Friday?

Christ died on a Friday, so it carries a special sacred significance for Catholics . . .

Al Kresta

Certain preachers have tried to scare the hell out of folks — hoping to scare them out of Hell. However, the Church has no authority to send people to Hell. But Jesus did invest the leaders of his Church with his authority to “bind and loose” (Mt 16:19; 18:18).

This was a familiar formula in the first century. Rabbis had the power to make halakah, or rules of conduct, for the faith community — including setting aside days for fasting and repentance.

Because Friday is the day Christ died for the sin of the world, it carries a special sacred significance for Catholics. To set this day apart, the Church teaches us to perform works of penance. Canon Law declares: “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” (1251).

Prior to Feb. 17, 1966, Catholics understood the Friday abstinence to mean abstaining from meat. But Pope Paul VI modified the discipline in his apostolic constitution Poenitemini. The basic purpose of the Friday abstinence is to establish a regular, rhythmic and corporate self-denial.

But as Paul VI reminded us, it’s not about avoiding filet mignon, but about “prayer-fasting-charity.” He urged Catholics to show solidarity with “their brothers who suffer in poverty and hunger, beyond all boundaries of nation and continent.”

After Poenitemini, each bishops’ conference could decide exactly what the culturally appropriate penitential practices should be. For example, in 1984 the French bishops reinstated the Friday abstinence from meat, but also included tobacco and alcohol. In America, other forms of penance can be substituted for abstinence from meat.

To consciously and maliciously refuse to participate in this communal discipline is a serious matter. It weakens the witness of the Church to Christ’s atoning work on Good Friday and ignores an invitation to the grace offered by Christ. So it’s sad that many Catholics have lost the sense of community that once bound us together in this discipline.

Al Kresta is CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Why Do Catholics Genuflect?” (Servant Publications/St. Anthony Messenger Press 2001).