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Catholic Life | Tag Archive | Fridays
Tag Archives: Fridays

Vegetarian Fridays

Christ Died for Our Salvation on Friday.

Gratefully remembering this, Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitentialobservance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that theymay one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of thetradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where thattradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.

Sometimes the US bishops are quite a pain. In much of the world Catholic vegetarians do not have to think about Fridays as any different than the rest of the week. They know that meat is forbidden on Fridays, and they don’t meat any day, so there is nothing to think about.

But years before I was even born the pesky US bishops had to make such a point of emphasizing Fridays as a day of penance that they downgraded abstinence from meat from a hard and fast command to just a really, really strong suggestion. And in doing so they made it very clear that Fridays are still days for profound penitential conversion.

I cannot be satisfied with the fact that I never eat meat. Instead Fridays should find me

doing volunteer work in hospitals, visiting the sick, serving the needs of the aged and the lonely, instructing the young in the Faith, participating as Christians in community affairs, and meeting our obligations to our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our community, including our parishes, with a special zeal born of the desire to add the merit of penance to the other virtues exercised in good works born of living faith.

I know all of this, but somehow I constantly fail to keep Friday as a special day of penance. Oh I’ll try to skip some food sometimes if I remember, and I may toss in a few extra prayers or refrain from taking painkiller for a mild headache. But often I do next to nothing, and what I do do is of little service to others.

If I weren’t a vegetarian I would follow the bishops’ instructions to give first place to abstaining from meat on Fridays, and not stress too much about what else I was able to add to that. But as it is I struggle to find a penitential practice which works every Friday. I need something which is so fitting that I can do it every single Friday and form a habit which will protect against the Saturday morning effort to figure out whether I can justify calling what I did or did not do “penance.”

The best thing that I can figure out for right now is to pray the complete liturgy of the hours on Fridays. But I also know that I personally need to do something of more direct service to others. And I have no idea what that should be.

I suspect that most of my readers do not find abstinence from meat to be the most meaningful way to follow Christ on Fridays. So, will you please share your penitential practices for Fridays? It’s not bragging, it is giving me a chance to copy you! And if you really can’t get over your fear of what others might think, then fake names are always allowed.

Note: I realize that this is something which simply is not a part of the religious lives of many Catholics today. If you don’t currently keep Friday as a day of penance, why not start by giving up meat for a meal or two? I suspect that you will soon find that it is fairly easy to give up meat for Fridays.

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