Monday, 18 June 2012

Feast of St Peter and St Paul: obligation to go to Mass, no obligation to abstain from meat

Fr Z has been kind enough to pick up a post from my parish website - which prompts me to think that it might be helpful to put it on my own blog!
The feast of St Peter and St Paul on Friday 29 June is a Holyday of Obligation on which we are bound to attend Holy Mass. Masses in the parish will be at 10am, 4.15pm and 8pm (Latin EF.)

A plenary indulgence may be gained on this feast day, under the usual conditions, by devoutly praying with a pious object (rosary, holy card etc.) which has been blessed by the Pope or any Bishop, or by visiting a (Catholic) Cathedral Church. In either case, the Our Father and the Creed should be said.

The feast of St Peter and St Paul is a “Solemnity.” We may therefore eat meat on that day even though it is a Friday. It would be a devout practice (though not obligatory) to abstain from meat on the day before, on the Vigil of the feast.

For an explanation of indulgences, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church n.1471 ff.

For an explanation of the conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence, see my article Plenary indulgences not impossible.
I didn't realise that the Feast of St Peter and St Paul was not a holyday of obligation in the USA. In England now, many holydays have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Notoriously, Ascension and Epiphany are moved - this wrecks any semblance of a sensible calendar at those times. In addition, Corpus Christi is moved. Furthermore, any Holyday that falls on a Saturday or a Monday is moved to the adjacent Sunday. This has seriously compromised any attempt by parish priests to persuade people to go to Mass on days that are of obligation during the week.

In my parish we always have an old rite sung Mass on the traditional days. We get about as many people as we used to get anyway for the feast days when they were of obligation because people who like the old Mass will always come. Moving the Holydays has really achieved very little. A much more practical and pastoral approach would be to restore the Octaves.

Another loss (already well underway before the Council) is the vigils. Good Catholics who care about keeping the law of the Church are forever asking me about when they can eat meat on a Friday. Basically, the new code says that abstinence does not apply on days that are ranked in the calendar as solemnities. (In the old code the exemption was restricted to days of precept.) What people have forgotten is that it was the custom to fast on the vigil of a great feast. This makes a lot of sense - so why not make that little, tiny, not really very hard at all sacrifice of foregoing meat on Thursday 28 June in preparation for having a feast on the Friday?
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