Saturday, March 13, 2010

Un-Fish Fridays

As The Man and I have worked our way through Lent this year, we've been more than 90% faithful to our commitment to read together each night. We missed one night because I was dead tired (slept eleven hours straight), and we missed another night with no good excuse. We've dutifully abstained from meat on Fridays. And The Man made a solid effort to fast on Ash Wednesday. The Church's requirements aren't difficult for Lent, and I think we've done a pretty good job so far.

But I've got a bone to pick with the tradition of "no meat Fridays." The original idea was that meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, venison, etc.) was a luxury that no one would want to pass up. The foods that come from animals, including eggs, cheese, milk, and butter were also banned so that people didn't get any "tasty" or mouth-watering food on Fridays. We're supposed to realize (through our stomachs) the sacrifice Christ made. Since the tradition began long ago, the year-round Friday abstinence from meat has been reduced to Lenten Fridays only, and foods made with eggs, butter, cheese, and milk are now totally fine. Just no meat.

My problem is that it doesn't seem like a sacrifice to me to be dining on fish instead of pork or beef. The rule says no land-based meat, only fish for a source of protein or no meat at all. I'd much rather eat salmon or tuna than a steak. Eating fish was a treat for me growing up, and I look forward to going to seafood restaurants much more than steakhouses. If I'm supposed to remember Christ's sacrifice in some tangible gastric way, I ought to be giving up fish, not running toward it as fast as I can. I ought to suffer though a steak instead of halibut. A grease bomb burger and limp fries would be worse than mahi-mahi.

Some would say that giving up fish would be sacrifice enough for me since I'm not the biggest fan of beef or pork. But I can make pasta with marinara sauce or sautee some potatoes or eat PB&;J and feel no less at a loss. Even a bread and water diet for me isn't punishment (if only for a day). I love bread!

So instead of giving up meat or fish or other tasty foods, I've found it's easier to give more of my time or pray longer or do something meaningful. Like make rosaries. The one pictured was a gift to The Man's brother. Onyx and emerald beads, the emerald just barely visible in the picture. I made this one last summer I think.

What do you think? Should the whole "meatless Fridays" be re-evaluated to mean "no meat at all," or should Catholics just give in and eat any meat? Is a different sacrifice a good idea if fish isn't causing any suffering? And just how much suffering needs to be done anyway?


cm0978 said...

Speaking as one who does *not* like fish, etc., it is difficult to find something for Fridays in Lent. There's cheese pizza, eggs, macaroni & cheese, cheese sandwiches and... pbj. So I notice these Fridays very much. Still, I don't know that it really makes me think about Christ's suffering. It's just annoying. Perhaps I just don't have the right attitude.

I agree that doing something during Lent is better than giving something up. Unless you're giving up a bad habit like gossiping or complaining as our priest suggested. I guess whatever you do isn't of worth unless it makes you stretch out of your comfort level.

I think it's great that you two read together at night. What a great habit -- I envy you.

Th0t said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I totally agree with what you wrote. For me though, I dislike fish. And I love quesadillas or cheese pizza or cheese sandwiches and especially pb&j! I listened to a talk where a priest said that by fasting he wants to say "Look Lord, I can't do anything really, you've done everything for me. but by depriving me of something I want you to know I care." I agree with doing something if you don't really have anything to give up. Stepping out of your comfort zone.

...God Bless...