On Friday Abstinence

By way of Fr Z, I've seen that the bishop of Steubenville is encouraging his flock to resume abstinence from meat on Fridays. This is laudable, and I intend to take it up myself, this coming Friday.

We're still obliged to do some form of penance on Fridays throughout the year, though I only knew of it through Sam, and never really bothered with it. We are legally obliged to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent, however. The rest of the year, we get to choose our penance.

This practise will strengthen our Catholic identity. Making it a normal 'Catholic thing' again, to abstain from meat on Fridays, will set us apart from the nations. The whole point of the dietary laws in the Old Testament were to make the Israelites distinguishable from the surrounding peoples. Catholics returning to Friday abstinence will act in the same way. It is a small act, one day out of seven, that makes us different. It will mark us as Catholics. When someone sees you eating normally the rest of the week, and refraining from meat on Friday, you can be identified as a Catholic.

Abstinence from meat is preferable to the current situation because: it is already associated with Catholics; a uniform Friday penance will build camaraderie; it will be easier to support each other and hold each other to account. The current situation (choose your own penance) is undesirable because most Catholics just don't bother to do anything. Left to our own devices, we treat Friday like any other day of the week. Returning to nobody gets meat on Fridays will increase the number of persons who actually bother to do Friday penance.

Let's re-invigorate our Catholic identity--say no to meat on Fridays!

No comments:

Post a Comment