Prior to my MMSL Sucks post shooting up through the ranks as being my most popular post and garnering the attention of trolls, (In case anyone cares, I did actually e-mail Mr. Kay asking if he would like to respond when I wrote the post and he never has. *shrug*) some of my most popular posts had to do with faith related topics. One of them was Keeping the Sabbath which tackled Sundays.
Just like my Sabbath post discussed the different types of Sabbaths, the Catholic church celebrates the Eucharist (aka the feast) yearly (Easter), weekly (every Sunday), and daily (daily Mass). Some Protestants get very confused on the celebration of the sacrifice. The sacrifice is continuous. Not that it is continuously happening but that the grace of Jesus's death on the cross continuously redeems us. It redeemed those then, it redeems us now, and it will redeem generations to come. Hence the continuous celebration of it.
But as the priest's wife eloquently says, "You can't have a feast without a fast." So I'm going to blog about Fridays. Fridays being the fast before the feast.
Fridays are supposed to be penitential, but some Catholics believe that fasting on Fridays is reserved for Lent and that the fish- only- every- Friday is something of the past. It's not.
Just recently the British Catholics have once again made meatless-Fridays an obligation. Americans are supposed to be meatless every Friday too, but our bishops can and did decide that we can substitute something else.
What this means is your supposed to give up something in Penance on Fridays or add some act of mercy. Examples of penance would be to give up desserts, give up your morning cup of joe, and give up soda. Examples of substitutions are visiting the shut-ins, bringing food to the sick, helping the poor, and offering prayers to those in purgatory. In other words, just like the acts of mercy for Sunday, they are also important to Fridays.
Friday is the fasting preparation to Sunday like the Lenten season is the fasting preparation to Easter. You can't feast unless you fast.
Now you may be thinking "yearly, weekly, daily..." Yes, there is also a daily fast, which I also think most Catholics are unaware of. For a long time, you were obligated to fast from eating or consuming beverages other than water 12 hours before communion. That's why breakfast is called "breakfast" because it's the first meal in which you break fast. Get it? Then it was changed to 3 hours and now it is 1. I've noticed a few adults drinking beverages that did not appear to be water, and they appeared to be perfectly healthy to me. I'm guessing this is out of ignorance about fasting before the feasting.
There are exceptions of course to the fast. If you have health conditions (pregnancy, diabetes, nursing, etc etc) in which fasting puts you (or someone else) in a high risk category of health problems than of course you are not under obligation. In fact I would hazard to say, "don't fast!" But rather give up something else as a form of penance.
Furthermore this fast is limited to those age 14 (for meatless only) and
16 for true fasting. I think there is also the exception that if you
are above the age of 59 you do not have to fast. I know this is true of
Lent, but I'm not completely certain about Fridays.
And just to further make it clear...an obligation in the Catholic sense is an obligation to serve God but also necessary to do what is good and avoid what is evil. Penance is a reminder.