Rorate Caeli

Easter Friday and the discipline of abstinence

Every year at this time, Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass ask if Easter Friday is a day of abstinence or not.

Well, it depends what discipline you follow.  In 1962, the year of the Roman missal used by Catholics faithful to the traditional Latin Mass under Summorum Pontificum, the discipline (law, in fact) was abstinence was still required on Easter Friday.  The 1917 Code of Canon Law in force at the time mandated abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year except for days of precept (that is, holy days of obligation).

Easter Friday was not, in 1962, a holy day of obligation, even though it remains a first class feast day in the octave of Easter. This is similar to the Ember Days during the octave of Pentecost (which are, with fasting, even stricter than Easter Friday during an otherwise joyous week).

The post-Vatican II law, which is technically currently binding, changed the rules, waiving Friday abstinence (or whatever in the world a bishops conference substitutes for Friday abstinence) during so-called "solemnities". Solemnities, loosely based on first class feasts, may or may not be holy days of obligation.

Therefore, if one follows the discipline of 1962, then the corresponding practice on Easter Friday remains a day of abstinence.  If one follows the post-Vatican II discipline (which admittedly is the law, just as it would be lawful to feast during 38 of the 40 days of Lent), then grill the steak with one's novus ordo friends.

We have written about this quagmire before, and will leave it to readers to make their own decisions. (The hyperlink will show the complete discipline of 1962 taken from the Ordo of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.) But it should be noted what the discipline was in 1962: Easter Friday was a first class feast day (no fasting) while also being a day of abstinence.