The Friday Fast is a Christian practice of abstaining from animal meat on Fridays that is found most frequently in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist traditions. According to Pope Peter of Alexandria, the Friday fast is done in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. Abstinence is colloquially referred to as "fasting" although it does not necessarily involve a reduction in the quantity of food.
Since the Second Vatican Council, it has not been widely followed by Roman Catholics apart from Lenten Fridays and Good Friday itself. Specific regulations are passed by individual episcopates. In the US in 1966, the USCCB passed Norms II and IV that bound all persons from age fourteen to abstain from meat on Fridays of Lent, and through the year. In September 1983, Canons 1252 and 1253 expressed this same rule, and added that Bishops may permit substitution of other penitential practices, but that some form of penance shall be observed on Friday in commemoration of the day of the week of the Lord's Crucifixion.
Most episcopal conferences have not allowed to substitute a different penance for Fridays of Lent, though e. g. the German one has; no episcopal conference has lifted either fasting or abstinence for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence on all Fridays is still the preferred practice among many Catholics.
Anglican formularies, particularly the Book of Common Prayer, have generally required abstinence from meat on Fridays, though it is difficult to gauge how widely followed this practice has been among Anglicans. The wording in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church describes "All the Fridays in the Year, except Christmas Day, and The Epiphany, or any Friday which may intervene between these Feasts" as days "on which the church requires such a measure of abstinence as is more especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion".
Reflecting its Anglican patrimony, the Methodist tradition also encourages its communicants to fast on Fridays, especially on those during the Lent season. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, required fasting on both Wednesdays (in remembrance of the betrayal of Christ) and Fridays (in remembrance of His crucifixion and death) for those seeking holy orders.
- Concerning Fasting on Wednesday and Friday. Orthodox Christian Information Center. Accessed 2010-10-08.
- Beard, Steve (30 January 2012). "The spiritual discipline of fasting". Good News Magazine. United Methodist Church.
- Penitential Practices for Today's Catholics. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Accessed 2007-12-07.
- Tables and Rules for the Movable and Immovable Feasts,Together with the Days of Fasting and Abstinence, through the Whole Year, p. 3 of 6. The 1928 U.S. Book of Common Prayer. Accessed 2009-04-09.
- The Wesley Fast by Methodist Prayer