starbright wrote:Out of interest, does that mean that if I want to say more prayers or visit an old housebound lady instead of abstaining from meat on a Friday, or miss out my usual alcohol or something, then that's allowed? I thought I could, but this quotation seems to suggest that you can only do that if the bishop says yes. I would like to know. Thanks.
The canons which I cited above represent the norms for the universal Church. That having been said, various bishops’ conferences around the world have the legitimate authority (cf. canon 1253) to dispense, amend, or augment these norms in accordance with local customs and practices.
For example, in the United States it is not a requirement for Catholics to fast or abstain from food on every single Friday of the year (see: http://www.usccb.org/lent/Penance_and_Abstinence.pdf
) – only on particular days for certain age groups.
However, since every Friday of the year (excluding solemnities) constitute days of penance whereby we recall in a special way the Passion of Our Lord and sorrow for our own sins, it is left to the personal consciences of individual Catholics to determine precisely what penitential practices (i.e., self-denial and mortification) will be undertaken outside the liturgical Season of Lent. Penance is a very serious obligation of every Catholic. For more information on this topic, please read this document: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_ ... ni_en.html
Regarding the penitential prescriptions which have been established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
(CBCEW), you might be interested in consulting the following document: http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resourc ... inence.pdf
Our Lady of Medjugorje has obviously ‘raised the bar
’ for many Catholics regarding the issue of fasting. She probably did so to avoid usurping the authority of any given bishops’ conference anywhere on the planet. Based on her messages for the world, however, it would also appear that she is gravely concerned about the sinfulness of modern-day humanity. There is a critical need for a great deal of penance! Therefore, she continually invites her children around the world to go beyond the bare minimum of what is required by divine law and Church law. (Of course, Starbright, I’m definitely NOT suggesting that the asking of your very good and appropriate question inclines me to suppose that you are a ‘minimalist’ in any manner or respect.)
As mentioned, Our Lady of Medjugorje invites us to surpass the minimum penitential practices laid out by the Catholic Church. Therefore, we should make every effort to undertake fasting with a spirit of love
rather than sheer obligation. We simply try to do the best that we are able… and avoid any excessive scrupulosity.
Peace & Blessings!
"True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement." - Pope John Paul II