You know what to do.
1) Is abstinence/penitence required every Friday?
The USCCB websites says:
“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays *during Lent* are obligatory days of abstinence. ”
This would imply that not every Friday is required for abstinence.
However, the Code of Canon Law # 1250 says: “The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.”
2) What does this canon mean by “penitential days”?
Of course, every day of the year we should do some form of penitence such as prayer, works of mercy, self-denial. But what does one have to do specifically on Fridays to count as a “penitential day”?
1. The U.S. has a dispensation from Canon Law, so Catholics here do not need to abstain from meat on Fridays. But we are supposed to substitute another form of penance.
2. A penitential day is a day of increased or of particular attention/efforts toward penance: repentance from sin and acts of self-denial, prayer, and mercy toward others to make up for the harm done by sin and to encourage oneself toward continued repentance.
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