Friday, May 7, 2010

Meatless Fridays and All That

'Everybody knows' that Catholics aren't allowed to eat meat on Friday. Or on Fridays during Lent. Or on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Or something like that.

For once, 'everybody' is pretty close to being right. Practicing Catholics in America, age 19 to 59, were expected - required - to fast Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in the Lenten season this year. On top of that:
"...Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of complete abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year...."
("Let us offer a reminder on the Church's fasting and abstinence teachings:" The Lenten Season, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

How Medieval! Don't Those Catholics Know That Some People Shouldn't Fast?!

If those meatless Fridays and, seperately, fasting on two days during Lent seems extreme - even dangerous - don't worry. The Catholic Church has you covered:
"...Fasting-By refraining from eating, we signify our oneness with the Lord, acknowledge our need for conversion, and give witness to our solidarity with those less fortunate. Catholics who are eighteen years and older and in good health are bound until their fifty-ninth birthday by the obligation to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Traditionally, the canonical obligation of fasting has been understood in the Church as the taking of only one full meal a day...."
(Forms of Penance, "Let us offer a reminder on the Church's fasting and abstinence teachings:," The Lenten Season, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops )
People who aren't man- or woman- high yet, or have managed to survive almost six decades, aren't expected to fast. Neither are folks who can't, because their bodies won't take the strain.

I'm diabetic, so fasting wouldn't be a particularly good idea. I'm right on the age cutoff, too. My wife is quite a bit younger than I am, but she can't fast for other medical reasons.

How Apostate! We're the Only Real Catholics Left!

Quite a few people feel that the Catholic Church isn't -
  • Really Catholic
  • Christian
  • Holy
  • Whatever
- for a hodgepodge of reasons. Persons with social and intellectual aspirations often decide to say that all religions are anti-social. Except for a few cool Eastern ones, maybe. A few say that all religions are "bad," forgetting that "good" and "bad" are supposed to be cultural conventions. Which is another topic.

Quite a few Catholics around my age remember the "good old days," before Vatican II 'ruined' everything. They generally were born into the Church, and have very nice memories of "pre-Vatican II" practices. And, very often, had unpleasant experiences involving the "in the spirit of Vatican II" weirdness that hit the AmChurch.

Judging from the results, some of that "in the spirit of Vatican II" stuff was about 180 proof. Drunk by a teetotaler.

As an adult convert to Catholicism, I have no fond childhood memories of the Church before Vatican II. I'd heard of Vatican II, of course: but I did what many 'experts' and professional theologians apparently hadn't. I read the documents of Vatican II. Not all of them - but I've studied them as issues come up in my life.

Those "secret" documents that the Catholic Church 'doesn't let anybody read?' Most of them are online. Here's a link to the Vatican II documents:They're available in Byelorussian, Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili. (What! No اردو or தமிழ் அரிச்சுவடி?! I've written about the Vatican's 'vast resources' before. (April 11, 2010))

If your church had the altar rails torn out, the Tabernacle hidden, and go-go girls introduced to Saturday Night Mass: my sympathies. That was groovy theology and disco: not Vatican II. Don't take my word for it: look it up.

Liturgical dance, by the way, is forbidden in Western cultures. Eastern? That's another story. (January 10, 2010)

Meatless Fridays and Fasting Died With Vatican II, Right?

Here's an excerpt from an old Catholic document:
"...Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins...."
(Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence)
That may sound very pre-Vatican II. All that "Wherefore" and "obligation" and stuff like that. That's an excerpt from "A Statement Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops." Dated November 18, 1966.

Vatican II wrapped up November 21, 1965: almost a year before the USCCB issued that statement. And no, that wasn't the AmChurch defying apostate Rome. The American bishops were just doing their job, passing along what Headquarters had to say.

Too bad so many American priests didn't read the memo.

It's true: Vatican II made adjustments in the way the Catholic Church works. But the American weirdness, at least, was the result of 'experts' and 'theologians' in this country getting together and discussing the 'Gospel According to Newsweek,' and what they felt would be real groovy. All done "in the spirit of Vatican II," of course.

I've got a start on a post about Vatican II - but that's yet another topic.

Meatless Fridays and My Wife's Cooking

My household abstains from "meat" (meat from mammals and birds, that is) each Friday, year-round. We've been doing that for a few years now.

No big deal: I figure that if it's a good idea during Lent, it's a good idea for the rest of the year. Not because I want to punish myself and my family: but to give us one more reminder of our Lord.

There's just one problem, sort of. With my wife's cooking: those meatless meals taste 'way too good to be considered abstinence or penance.

Vaguely-related posts, mostly about Friday and the Vatican:More:

3 comments:

Brigid said...

Unless you don't like fish in the first place, like someone I could mention. I think it's kinda odd, but then I don't like peas and I understand there are people who do.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

You have a point there. It's likely that a fair number of folks don't particularly care for fish - which would explain that particular 'meatless' custom.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Vatican II did not do away with meatless Fridays.

Most Catholics think that Vatican II did away with the requirement of not eating meat on any Friday of the year. Most think it is now just Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent that we cannot eat meat.

This is what the new Code of Canon Law brought out in 1983 says about the matter:
Canon 1251
Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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