Christians cite reasons to thank God for Fridays

| Father Michael Van Sloun For The Catholic Spirit | November 4, 2010 | 1 Comment

TGIF: Work release! Most folks like Fridays. Workers eagerly look forward to them. The cheery thought of Friday gives people a lift, so much so that there is a well-known slogan, “Thank God it’s Friday.” A restaurant chain even named itself TGI Fridays. Friday represents the end of the work week and the beginning of the weekend, both reasons to celebrate.

The crucifixion is depicted in stained glass at St. Charles in Herman, Minn. Father Michael Van Sloun

Friday, a solemn weekly memorial. Christians also thank God for Fridays, but for a very different reason. Spiritually, Friday ranks behind Sunday, the first and most important day of the week. Sunday is set aside to commemorate the central mystery of our faith, the joyful aspect of the Paschal Mystery, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. After Sunday, the next most important day of the Christian week is Friday, the day to remember the other half of the Paschal Mystery, the somber part, the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday. We thank God on Fridays for his son Jesus, the Good Shepherd, our Savior, who laid down his life for us. Over the centuries, traditions and devotions have emerged for Fridays to give respect and tribute to Jesus for all that he endured on our behalf and to venerate his saving cross.

Abstinence. This well-known and longest-standing spiritual practice is associated with Fridays. Since Jesus sacrificed his flesh on the cross on Good Friday, Catholics refrain from eating flesh meat on Fridays in his honor. Flesh meat includes the meat of mammals and poultry. This spiritual practice began in the first century. For a long while, it was mandatory every Friday through­out the year. Mandatory abstinence was discontinued in 1966. The 1983 revis­ed Code of Canon Law makes Ash Wednesday and Good Friday days of abstinence for those fourteen and older (C. 1251 and 1252), and the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops extended abstinence to all Fridays in Lent.

Friday and sin. Jesus died for our sins on a Friday, so Friday stands out as a special day for contrition and sorrow for past wrongdoing, as well as the day to perform acts of pen­ance. Abstinence is a form of pen­ance, and while it is required only on the Fridays of Lent, it is both optional and worthwhile throughout the rest of the year. Other forms of penance are also highly recommended for Fridays: prayer, fasting, almsgiving and good deeds.

Prayer for Fridays. The ideal way to pray on Fridays is to attend daily Mass. The votive Masses of the Holy Cross, the Sacred Heart and the Precious Blood are optional on some Fridays during ordinary time. Other Friday devotions include the Sta­tions of the Cross; the rosary, particularly the Sorrowful Mysteries; Scrip­ture reading, particularly the Passion narratives; and litanies, particularly the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Liturgies and ministries for Fri­days. In many parishes, Friday is the most popular day of the week for Masses or prayer services at hospitals or nursing homes. It is also a common day to bring Communion to the sick and shut-ins, to distribute food and clothing to the needy, and to perform other works of mercy.

First Fridays. Friday is also a day to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was pierced by the soldier’s lance (John 19:34). St. Margaret Mary Alacoque reported that Jesus appeared to her a number of times from 1673 to 1675, and asked her to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month in reparation for sins and to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart. St. Mar­ga­ret Mary also recounted how Jesus pro­mised that anyone who made nine consecutive first Fridays and re­ceiv­ed holy Communion would be given the grace of final penitence, the opportunity to receive the last sacraments, and refuge within the safe haven of his Sacred Heart at the time of death.

The spiritual significance of Fri­day. Christians thank God for Fri­day. It is the day Jesus died on the cross, and the cross is our salvation.

Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.

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  • Brent J Christen

    General canon law says that all Fridays outside of Lent are days of abstinence — no meat — but if you want to eat meat, you should substitute some other form of penance.