Friday, November 20, 2009
Throughout the ages, the Church has observed Friday as a day of penance. Catholics around the world are required to perform some act of penance on Friday.
Why do we do this? The answer is simple; Friday is the day that our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, and in doing so redeemed mankind.
By performing penance on Friday, we unite ourselves with the Cross. As he suffered for us, so we deny ourselves some comfort for His sake. We fulfill Christ's command to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him (Mark 8:34).
The way one peforms Friday penance varies according to location. The norms for the United States, where I live, are that one must perform some act of penance of their choosing. A good way to do this is to give up something one enjoys for the day. The traditional act of penance, however, is that one abstains from meat on Friday (something that is still required on Lenten Fridays). However you perform it, remember that you are doing it for one reason only; to honor our Lord's sacrifice upon the cross.