In one of our favorite segments on the Busted Halo Show, “My Wife Thinks I’m Wrong,” a caller asks Father Dave about the Church’s rules about abstaining from meat on Fridays. The caller believes that even though it’s not required for Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, except during Lent, a Catholic is called to make some kind of sacrifice on Fridays. Her husband contends that there is no longer any requirement from the Church to make any kind of sacrifice on Fridays whatsoever.
Father Dave confirms that yes, while Catholics are no longer required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, except during Lent, we are called to make some kind of sacrifice on Fridays. During the Second Vatican Council, it was decided that abstaining from meat would no longer be a requirement, but that other forms of sacrifice could be employed instead.
“We had great messaging after the Second Vatican Council about half of this message,” Father Dave says. “The one-half was, ‘You don’t have to do the meat thing anymore on Fridays!’ And then everyone turned the radio off! Because the second half of the message was, ‘You gotta pick something else!'”
Father Dave explains why: “On Fridays, Catholics would make a sacrifice because Friday is the day … that Jesus hung on the cross and died for our sins. So the logic being that that was a pretty big sacrifice He made for us. We can probably do something teeny tiny like [abstaining from meat] on Fridays. Now that’s one of the ways in which we sacrifice — so we do some sort of ‘penitential act’ … It could be skipping a food item, it could be 20 minutes extra of prayer, or it could be [not playing] video games.”
So Catholics are called to a penitential act on Fridays, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be abstaining from meat. (Original Air 02-13-17)