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- Press release 25 November 2010 | Bishops publish new resource leaflet on Friday Penance
- Feature 20 March 2010 | Pope Benedict XVI’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland
Pope Benedict asked us to offer our Friday Penances “for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength.” He asked us to offer our fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.
In addition Pope Benedict encouraged us, “to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace”.
The Bishops’ Conference has published a resource leaflet called Friday Penance to assist the faithful in responding to the invitation of the Holy Father. It is amongst a number of initiatives identified in the Pastoral Letter which aim to support renewal in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
For an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church
I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances … to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.
Pope Benedict XVI, Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland
Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church … at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. … the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 827
Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful.
It arises from the Lord’s call to conversion and repentance.
We do penance
- in memory of the passion and death of the Lord,
- as a sharing in Christ’s suffering,
- as an expression of inner conversion,
- as a form of reparation for sin.
The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1438
Declaring some days throughout the year (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) as days of ‘fast and abstinence’ is meant to intensify penances of the Christian, not to isolate them.
Lent is the traditional season for renewal and penance. In addition to the season of Lent, Catholics observe each Friday of the whole year as days of penance.
The link between Friday and penance is extremely ancient and is even reflected in the Irish word for ‘Friday’, An Aoine (the fast).
Forms of Friday Penance
The following are suggested as ways of fulfilling Friday penance:
- Abstaining from meat or some other food
- Abstaining from alcoholic drink or smoking
- Making a special effort at involvement in family prayer
- Making a special effort to participate in Mass on Fridays
- Visiting the Blessed Sacrament
- Making the Stations of the Cross
- Fasting from all food for a longer period than usual and perhaps giving what is saved to the needy
- Helping the poor, sick, old, or lonely.
Tweets on Friday penance
The following are suggested tweets which could be tweeted each Friday:
Friday Penance: Make a special effort at family prayer. Make the Stations of the Cross. Do something to help the poor, sick or lonely.
Friday Penance: Make a special effort to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Abstain from meat or some other food.