Friday, February 17, 2017
Not eating meat on Fridays
Friday abstinence from meat including eggs is just a rule but a beloved custom (not just a penance; part of "Christian community" as a Catholic), and one of the only ascetic practices I can handle, so I abstain but don't advertise it. (The parts of the faith about loving your neighbor and staying pure are notoriously hard; not eating meat one day a week is very easy. It's just training for the hard stuff.) The rule for Roman Catholics is you're supposed to substitute an alternative penance if you eat meat on Friday outside of Lent (when we revert to abstinence) but nobody does that. Part of Vatican II's shell game: praise an old practice rhetorically, then effectively abolish it a few lines down by making it optional. The change was supposed to "deepen" our understanding of fasting rather than making it routine but it really was a disparagement of fasting as not modern. Jesus fasted and said, "When you fast..."
It doesn't have to be fish. The story about the Pope propping up the Italian fishing industry is just a joke.