The instruction to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year is lifted on a solemnity.
The Roman Catholic Church in the United States encourages the faithful to abstain from eating meat on Fridays throughout the year, though they can substitute a suitable penance instead. As the USCCB points out, “Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him.”
Giving up meat on Fridays throughout the year has always been a way to remember Jesus’ Passion and to offer a small sacrifice for God. This makes each Friday a somber occasion, dedicated to prayer and fasting.
What happens when a feast day lands on Friday?
According to the Code of Canon Law, “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on aFriday” (Can. 1251).
The Sacred Heart feast day is a “solemnity,” the highest order of liturgical feast, meaning that Catholics are to observe it similar to a Sunday. It is a day of celebration, meaning any type of fasting or abstinence from meat is temporarily lifted on that day.
Whatever you do, make sure to observe the “spirit” of the law and celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus when you eat meat on Friday. Offer him your thanksgiving and pledge to live a holy and virtuous life.