As you may have heard, the Bishops conference of England and Wales has re-instituted meatless Fridays (year round) as a normative act of penitence.
I think this is wonderful.
The Bishops also wish to remind us that every Friday is set aside as a special day of penitence, as it is the day of the suffering and death of the Lord. They believe it is important that all the faithful again be united in a common, identifiable act of Friday penance because they recognise that the virtue of penitence is best acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness.
The law of the Church requires Catholics on Fridays to abstain from meat, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this penance should be fulfilled simply by abstaining from meat and by uniting this to prayer. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake.
This decision will come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011.
Like I said, wonderful if even a little surprising that this happened in England. I think that the US Bishops conference would do well to follow suit.
Although, being identifiably Catholic comes with some responsibilities other than ordering plain cheese pizza on Fridays. If you are going to be identifiably Catholic on Fridays, we should make an extra effort to be identifiably Christian every day.