Joseph and I had a very lively conversation that ranged from my faith journey and my return to the Catholic Church through homeschooling and practical evangelism. We covered a lot of territory
and had fun doing so! You’ll enjoy listening in.
April 26, 2019
The Challenge of Meatless Fridays during Lent
As the culture becomes less and less Christian, Lenten sacrifices can become much more meaningful…if we’re willing to take on the challenge. That challenge is to maintain sacrificial practices in the face of a culture that has little knowledge or understanding of why anyone would purposely choose to sacrifice.
For example, meatless Fridays used to be an acknowledged part of the culture, and maybe they still are in some areas of the U.S. My experience tells me that so few Catholics are observing the Friday abstinence that most people are oblivious. At a major theme park, I could not find meatless options on the menus at most of the eateries. I think cheese pizza might have been available on the other side of the park. You would think that catering to vegetarians might prompt meatless options, but that wasn’t the case at this park. But if I could have found fish tacos or something acceptable, what sort of sacrifice would I be practicing?
Being invited for lunch at someone’s home on a Friday during Lent has presented sensitive social challenges for me for at least the last two years, especially when I’m only one of a larger group. I’ve learned to assume that they will serve meat and to unobtrusively take from other dishes and skip the entrée. If I were to speak up, it would make the host or hostess uncomfortable and they wouldn’t understand why it mattered. I find that this is an excellent Lenten discipline, because I might miss the main component of the meal and be a bit hungry—an actual sacrifice. I also try to do so without making others aware of it, a practice of humility.
Restaurants used to be highly aware and would feature fish on Fridays, especially during Lent. Not that long ago, people in general were aware that Catholics didn’t eat meat on Fridays all year long, and would consider that when preparing meals for others. But, in my experience, it doesn’t even register with most people any more.
I think Catholics are to blame rather than everyone else. If all Catholics were observing meatless Fridays during Lent, then restaurants and other people would be aware of it. I suspect many Catholics are not, and so, of course, the rest of the culture, says, Phew!! One less accommodation for us to think about.
Maybe the shift to a sacrifice or our own choice on Fridays throughout the rest of the year has translated in the minds of most Catholics to the idea that we can choose whatever we want to sacrifice through Lent as well. Whatever, the cause, it seems that many Catholics are not abstaining. That means that those of us who do abstain actually have opportunities to make that abstinence more sacrificial and more spiritually useful. Are we taking advantage of the opportunity?