Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Meat Friday's...What's That About?!?!?!?!


"I am hoping you will share why people don't eat meat on Friday's during lent. I've always wondered the reasoning behind it. I am sure it has something to do with Christ being the sacrificial lamb. Thanks again for sharing!!!" - Jen @ Following the Footsteps


Dear Jen,
  Thank you for your question.  I love your blog by the way!
  Hmmm...why no meat on Friday's during Lent?  Very good question.  Having never observed this ritual, I must say that I don't have a first hand knowledge of it.  However, I went out and did a little research and this is what I have come up with.
  • Fasting and Abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Friday's through Lent is a spiritual practice and ritual observed by the Catholic Church.
  • According to www.americancatholic.org, "Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 years old and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent."  The website goes on to say that "abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat."  (Just as a side note, "condiments made of animal fat" sounds disgusting and should be abstained from based on the pure ick factor alone).  Unfortunately, I couldn't really find a place where the website explained WHY one should abstain from meat or what the particular reasoning is behind it.
  • In my quest for more answers, I drove myself (electronically that is) to www.catholic.org.  There, I found an article by a journalist who works for www.pittsburghcatholic.org.  According to that article, written by C.T. Maier of the Pittsburgh Catholic (Click HERE for full article), the observance of no meat on Friday's is an American tradition.  "The basics of the precept are simple: Catholics are obliged to fast — to limit themselves to one full meal or two lighter meals — and abstain — refrain from eating meat — on certain days. Only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence, and in the United States only the Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence."  Though this article proved to be very informative (for example, it used to be required that every Friday of the year be a day of fasting from meat for Catholics...I didn't know that), it still failed to address the main question, "Why Meat?"
  • www.associatedcontent.com states that fasting on Friday's is in observance and remembrance that Christ was crucified on a Friday. (Click HERE for that article).  Okay...that makes sense.  But why NO MEAT?
  • Then...just when I was beginning to fear I might never find the answer...I stumble across www.thecatholicspirit.com.  According to Father Michael Van Sloun, a contributing writer to The Catholic Spirit, the overall premice is an abstinence from "flesh meat".  In the article published on Friday, February 19 2010, Father Michael Van Sloun made these statements:
"From the first century, the day of the crucifixion has been traditionally observed as a day of abstaining from flesh meat ('black fast') to honor Christ who sacrificed his flesh on a Friday," according to "The Catholic Source Book."
"Since Jesus sacrificed his flesh for us on Good Friday, we refrain from eating flesh meat in his honor on Fridays. Flesh meat included the meat of mammals and poultry, and the main foods that come under this heading are beef and pork, chicken and turkey. While flesh is prohibited, the non-flesh products of these animals are not (like milk, cheese, butter and eggs)."
 "Furthermore, in former times, flesh meat was more expensive, eaten only occasionally and associated with feasting and rejoicing; whereas fish was cheap, eaten more often and not associated with celebrations."
To read the full article, click HERE.

Well my friends, it appears we have stumbled across our answer to this profound and compelling question.  How very interesting it is to learn about the history of traditions in various religions and denominations.  I think learning about things we are unfamiliar with enriches who we are in our own personal faith walks and life journey's.  I want to reiterate that I am not Catholic and that the information above came directly from the sources referenced and not from personal experience.  Though I do not observe this ritual, I have found it quite interesting to learn about it and it has given me something to reflect on.

I want to thank Jen again for her question and hope that all of you feel comfortable posting your questions here.  I may not know the answers, but I'm excited about the ability to seek them out.  Also, if you are Catholic and have knowledge and/or experience of observing this tradition, we'd love to hear from you.  Your input is valuable and can help us to better understand that which we are not aware of.

Wishing you all many blessings this Lenten season and beyond,


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5 comments:

Andrea said...

Wow, thanks Freddae' for the info! I am Catholic and never knew the deep meaning behind not eating meat on Fridays. I always just thought it was a way of sacrificing for the Lord because of His sacrifice for us. I'm going to tell my husband, he's going to think I am so smart!

Believer said...

Abstaining from "flesh meat" makes so much sense rather than just because "they" said so. It's amazing how when we as humans can understand a "thing" we are more apt to follow.

Thanks!

Dustine said...

*Ditto* to what Andrea said...I, too, am Catholic and sacrificed meat on Friday's and Ash Wed during Lent because of Christ's sacrifice. I was told a theory once regarding meat that centuries ago the fish market was sufferring and the Catholic church chose to help by suggesting that people abstain from meat on Fridays and eat fish instead...tying in the idea of Christ's sacrifice being on a Friday. I have never been able to confirm this theory.

I followed you over from Top Mommy Bloggers and am so so glad I did! What a fantastic writer - and your spirit is contagious...I'm looking forward to following your blog!!! God Bless You!!!

Jen said...

Thank you so much for researching this and writing an entire post based on my question! I feel so honored!! I live in a large Catholic community (although I am NOT catholic) and have been asking this question for years! I knew it was based on the sacrifice of Christ and being crucified on a Friday but I never understood why meat but yet fish was ok! Now I have a better understanding and will be checking out the articles you referenced! Thanks again! I too LOVE your blog!! Hope you have a great week!!

Jen

Dalia (Generation X Mom) said...

I am with Andrea above. Thanks for the information!

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