The link between Friday and penance is extremely ancient and is even reflected in the Irish word for Friday - An Aoine (the fast) In his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland Pope Benedict XVI suggested a number of initiatives to support renewal in the Church in Ireland. Pope Benedict asked Catholics to offer Friday Penances "for an outpouring of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's gifts of holiness and strength."
The Bishops say: "He asked us to offer our fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. In addition Pope Benedict encouraged us, "to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.
"The Bishops' Conference has published a new resource leaflet called Friday Penance to assist of all of us in responding to the invitation of the Holy Father.
"Penance arises from the Lord's call to conversion and repentance and this new leaflet describes why penance is an essential part of all genuine Christian living:
* in memory of the passion and death of the Lord * as a sharing in Christ's suffering * as an expression of inner conversion * as a form of reparation for sin
Friday Penance goes on to explain the reason why penance on Fridays is important: "Declaring some days throughout the year as days of fast and abstinence (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) is meant to intensify penances of the Christian. Lent is the traditional season for renewal and penance but Catholics also observe each Friday of the year as days of penance. The link between Friday and penance is extremely ancient and is even reflected in the Irish word for Friday - An Aoine (the fast)."
The leaflet suggests ways of fulfilling Friday penance such as abstaining from meat or alcohol, visiting the Blessed Sacrament or helping the poor, sick and lonely as well as other suggestions. It also suggests a series of messages to send out on Friday via Twitter.