QUAERITUR: in a bind about eating meat in a Friday in Lent

From a reader:

Yesterday I brought a ham sandwich for lunch.  I had forgotten however that my firm was sponsoring a lunch on that day. It would have been somewhat awkward and unseemly to bring my own lunch to that sponsored lunch.  Eating the sandwich for supper would have been inconsiderate as my wife would have been disappointed had I not enjoyed the meal she prepared.  Certainly I could have planned things better and I take responsibility for that.  I could have for example not eaten the provided lunch and eaten the sandwich at my desk later, but at my office for a variety of reasons that is not so easy to do. So now I am left with the procrustean options of eating a ham sandwich on Friday (I would rather not do that) or throwing the sandwich away as I don’t think it will keep until tomorrow (not a particularly good choice either but preferable from certain perspectives).  What do you think?  Thanks.

 

The present legislation concerning penance states that you can substitute another form of penance.

The law for the Latin Church says:

 

Canon 1253  It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

 

I don’t know what country you are from, your local conference may have established norms concerning abstinence on Fridays of Lent.

Generally, however, if a person who is of the age and heath that he is bound to do the established Lenten Friday penance, including abstinence from meat, for a good reason a person can substitute another penance.

That would require a measure of honesty and a careful assessment of the circumstances.  There are so few obligations placed on Latin Catholics today in this regard.

I will assume from your scenario that you are not in a financial position such that you can responsibly throw away food, which is not good in any case.

Another scenario might be: being invited to a home and being served meat and not wanting to offend or embarrass.

Still, the reason why the Church relaxed the laws on fasting and penance was because we need to make thoughtful decisions about penance and engage in it in a meaningful way.   For some people fasting or abstaining from food really isn’t very hard.  I know a couple people who have to be reminded to eat.  On the other hand, were they away from a, say, radio or other noise maker, or cut off from the internet, they would be hard pressed. 

I am guessing that where you live, you may have the option of substituting a penance.

Finally, your parish priest, the pastor, under canon law has the ability to dispense you from your obligation of abstinence on Friday.  You might give him a call.  He would probably be interested to learn that one of his parishioners wanted to do the right thing.

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65 Responses to QUAERITUR: in a bind about eating meat in a Friday in Lent

  1. RBrown says:

    If someone forgets to abstain or is in a situation where abstinence is not possible, then, IMHO, the thing to do is abstain on the next day (Saturday) or Monday.

    One of the problems with the Lenten Friday abstinence is that it’s much easier to forget and eat meat than it would be if Friday were a day of abstinence the entire year.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    One option available with the ham sandwich, depending on the person’s location, is to hand it out to a homeless person, or even a non-Catholic coworker, thus keeping in the lenten spirit of fasting and almsgiving.

  3. Chris says:

    Also, to add to what I just said, I’m not saying the current Canon Law isn’t to be followed.

    But, as the Divine Intimacy explained in yesterday’s explanation, you offend God not just by doing bad things but by not doing extra good things you had in mind then ignored. So, if you know you should abstain but the local ordinary says you don’t have to, you still should, especially just for a sandwich. And if you willingly choose not to, that may be offensive to God.

  4. Nathan says:

    Obviously, the good gentleman is making a bona fide effort to do the right thing, and Father gives a very useful answer. A more esoteric question–at what point does a good “not want to offend or embarass” become a selfish “motive of human respect?”

    In Christ,

  5. Fr. BJ says:

    Food was made for people, not people for food. I would throw away the sandwich and move on. If you were throwing away food all the time, it would be a problem. But an occasional fluke like this is no big deal.

    If you live near a forest, toss the sandwich there, and some animals will eat it.

  6. little gal says:

    Just a couple of thoughts…when people are on a diet for weight reduction or other health reasons (high blood pressure, diabetes), they simply bring their own food or modify what they eat at the lunch. I have done this myself and it can become an occasion for positive social interaction & discussion. Re: abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent etc, I do this year ’round…occasionally, I get a question and it becomes an opportunity for evangelization. For example, there is a new coworker who is a nonpracticing Catholic. He has already shared with me some of the religious formation that he received at a Jesuit high school (they sand a song called, “we are all saints,” It was an interesting discussion regarding how anyone could determine that they are saints)and I relish his questions on Lent and anything else Catholic. My other thought is that we need to ask ourselves if our need to conform to the group is what is really driving our decisions when we are in a more public arena.

  7. FOLKS: Let’s not get enthusiastic about telling this man what to do. He has information and now he can make his own decision.

    I don’t think he needs lots of suggestions. However, I must say that the suggestion of giving the sandwich to a homeless person was pretty good.

  8. Chris says:

    I think another practice that has been taken to an extreme is that we have to eat meat on Friday’s if we’re at someone else’s house as to “not offend.”

    I had a great conversation with the head of a traditional order of priests who told me that is only half true.

    He explained that, if the person wouldn’t understand our practice and would certainly take offense, then eat the meat. But if you know the person would understand you passing on the meat, then by all means pass on the meat so that you can please Christ.

    Let’s give our non-traditional friends and family the benefit of the doubt and not assume they can’t comprehend our traditions. We will never spread the Faith if we are always worried about offending.

  9. RichR says:

    I am an officer of the local dental society, and invariably one of our semi-annual meetings lands right in the middle of Lent each year. It is a catered event. When I was President, I made it a point to have a Lenten “option” for the meal, even though there were only 40 participants in the meeting. People were appreciative.

    I think the “no meat on Friday” penance is a great segway to religious conversation. God can use it to open people to discuss things of greater importance than simple Church discipline. If nothing else, it can be an example of simple, devout resolution to follow Church norms.

    Look at the Lenten abstinence as an opportunity, not a burden. See it in a positive light instead of a negative. Try to embrace it instead of avoid it. If eating meat is unavoidable, then so be it. If it takes minor heroics to observe the penance, lift it up as a sacrifice.

  10. Dennis says:

    Why would one have to throw out the sandwich — the good sisters taught us in grade school never to throw out food — either give it away to a non-catholic co-worker or a homeless person as suggested in a previous post or why not take it back home put it in the fridge or freezer and eat on Saturday — it keeps (so long as it was not laying in your desk draw for 8 hour) I often do this when I can’t finish a large sandwich

  11. dcs says:

    The present legislation concerning penance states that you can substitute another form of penance.

    For Fridays in Lent? That would be surprising if true.

  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    Can I also add, Father, that you are just slight short of Pure Evul for posting that picture of a delicious looking ham sandwich on a day of abstinence.

    Please don’t see fit to add to our suffering by doing a post about the proper way to grill a steak, or how to make carbonara with good, drippy, crinkly pancetta…

    :)

  13. Patrick says:

    A sandwich in the refrigerator will keep for 2 days, unless the meat was dangerously old to begin with.

    A related question: In the US, does the option to substitute penance for abstinence include Fridays of Lent? I thought that was only for Fridays throughout the year and that abstinence is still required on Fridays in Lent. Someone please clarify. Thanks!

  14. “Ask for nothing, refuse nothing.”

    – St. Francis de Sales

  15. Mark Polo says:

    I think that most of the Bishops’ Conferences have allowed the abstinence on all Fridays of the year to be substituted (although the required substitution differs from country to country, sometimes specifically an act of charity, sometimes a sacrifice of your own choosing), but retain the commandment of abstinence on Fridays of Lent.

    The greatest difficulty with this system is that a goodly portion of Catholics has no idea that Canon Law requires abstinence on all Fridays of the year (not just in Lent): “1251: Abstinentia a carnis comestione vel ab alio cibo iuxta conferentiae Episcoporum praescripta, servetur singulis anni sextis feriis, nisi cum aliquo die inter sollemnitates recensito occurrant.” The universal law doesn’t differentiate between Lent and not-Lent, though most countries I am familiar with have made this distinction.

    I therefore find it easier to just fulfill the universal law here, as it is rather difficult to search out what I’m supposed to do on Fridays to replace abstinence otherwise.

  16. R says:

    dcs:

    It is sad, but nevertheless true. And of course readily open to abuse. When I was studying at one of the Catholic permanent private halls at Oxford University some ten years ago, the students were invited by the religious(!) who run the house for a special once-yearly dinner at which we were served chicken, not to mention 2-3 wines and some of the finest French pastries money can buy. Oh, yes, this was on a Friday in Lent. A few of us were scandalized, though our hosts didn’t seem too bothered. Go figure.

  17. ALL: We are NOT going to discuss that sandwich and refrigerators. That is a rabbit hole and I am now closing it.

  18. Patrick says:

    sorry about the refrigerator comment

  19. Nathan says:

    Tim Ferguson: Fr. Z is a paragon of restraint. If you really want a day of abstinence test, see what the Curt Jester offered us on Ash Wednesday:

    http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/2009/02/detachment-test-2.php

    (Father, I hope this is not in the sandwich rabbit hole. I think it’s in the meat temptation rabbit hole.)

    In Christ,

  20. Tzard says:

    Maybe people can make suggestions about other pennances people can do who under just circumstances cannot abstain from meat.

  21. dcs says:

    It is sad, but nevertheless true.

    I know that one can substitute a penance outside of Lent, but I was not aware that one can substitute a penance on the Fridays of Lent. If this is the case then why is such a big deal made of Lenten abstinence? Where is the legislation stating that one can substitute a penance on the Fridays of Lent? I am dubious.

  22. Chris says:

    I am dubious as well. I have never heard such a thing. It’s bad enough it was watered down to non-existence in the new Code. I just can’t fathom they’d do that during Lent to boot.

  23. Woody Jones says:

    I believe the canon law provision states that all Fridays of the year (except if a solemnity occurs on that day) are days of penance and abstinence, to which the USCCB mitigation would apply.

  24. DarkKnight says:

    Just give it to a homeless person. I do know understand why this should be so angst provoking.

  25. dcs says:

    Here is the current legislation in the U.S.:

    http://www.usccb.org/lent/2008/Penance_and_Abstinence.pdf

    In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul’s Constitution Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.

    Paenitemini states that it is up to the Episcopal Conferences to determine whether another form of penance can be substituted for abstinence and fast (VI. 1. B.). It is not up to individuals to do this on their own, and it does not appear that the USCCB has relaxed the rule on abstinence for Fridays in Lent.

  26. Patrick says:

    As I mentioned above the USCCB website makes no mention of any option to substitute a penance during Lent. I believe their option only regards non-Lenten Fridays.

  27. Irish says:

    Will the sandwich hold until 12:00 am tonight/tomorrow? Midnight snack.

    Although I like Dark Knight’s suggestion best.

  28. Maureen says:

    For some of us, eating meat on Fridays or Lent is the mortification. :) Since I broke my arm right before Lent, my doctor ordered that I eat a high protein diet, and my mother has determined that this means (among other things) feeding me meat to replace all the blood and stuff. (I can’t completely dress myself, at the moment, so I’m living with them.) And yeah, I’m sick so Lenten fasting doesn’t apply, but honestly, it made me feel pretty cruddy to have to do it. I took it as an obedience thing.

    Of course, it’s possible that was really some kind of tofu meat, as my mother gave me the “shut up and eat it” line; but she was in no mood to explain herself, so she might have just forgotten about Lent in all the foofaraw. Still, I hope this Friday we eat fish or cheese or something.

    I’m eating box paneer with cashews for lunch, so hurray for my desk’s prestocked Lenten pantry!

  29. R says:

    Chris:

    “I just can’t fathom they’d do that during Lent to boot.”

    Well, they (reverend fathers religious) did, and I shall never forget it. It seemed so outrageous to me that the only reasonable inference I could make was that they did in fact have the law on their side. Perhaps this was a special adjustment of the universal law bestowed upon the UK by her “magic circle” bishops. A canonist could clarify this for us, I guess.

    BTW, I didn’t touch their chicken. There are some conscientious instincts that even the most flexible, user-friendly modern laws cannot touch, D.g.

  30. Roland de Chanson says:

    Were I impaled upon the horns of such a Levitical dilemma, I would trust to the infinite justice and mercy of the Almighty and guiltily eat half and give the other half to a Jewish friend. We could then kvetch ecumenically about the hermeneutics of OT and NT notions of guilt.

  31. Tom Cole says:

    Greetings.

    I am confused along with DCS & Patrick — and I teach doctrine to high schoolers.

    Could someone supply the bishops’ statement that allows for the substitution of
    abstenence with some other penance, as dcs did for Fridays throughout the rest
    of the year? I have never heard of this exemption for Lent!

    I want the correct answer for my students, and I love documentary proof…

  32. Tom Cole says:

    Oops. Abstinence, not “abstenence.” Sorry.

  33. Romulus says:

    What Nathan and Chris said. Why should non-Catholics take the Church seriously if Catholics give the appearance of not doing so? Yes, it is unpleasant to call attention to oneself in the course of religious observance. However, we know what to do with this unpleasantness. We have a word for it: martyrdom. In great, dramatic ways and in small but faithful gestures, martyrdom is the seed of Christians.

  34. Father Totton says:

    2 memories:

    I once attended a Military Ball (College ROTC) on a Lenten Friday. Whoever organized it did so negligent of Catholic abstitnence. All in attendance were served meat. Speaking with those (fellow Catholics) around me, we determined better to eat what was set before us (a sit-down dinner) than to waste food. Now I don’t remember whether I ever substituted any other penance, but that was an unusual circumstance. If I had planned better, I would have requested fish or vegetarian only.

    Several years ago (many years after the MIlitary Ball), my godfather was ordained a priest on a Saturday Morning during Lent (it was NOT a Solemnity, and I am not sure why the ordination took place when it did). The night before, his family gave a dinner for family, close friends, the Bishop and a few others. Now, keep in mind, all were Catholics, so nobody could really plead ignorance, but they served beef and chicken. The Bishop (who was also the ordinary) gave a dispensation for this one occasion for the sake of celebrating the special event. Far be it from me to criticize His Excellency, but I am doubtful that I would give similar dispensation in similar circumstances. On the other hand, if I were invited to such a meal on a Friday, I would make the suggestion ahead of time that Lenten fare be served. There is no need to get bent out of shape for an oversight (if, in fact, that is what happened).

  35. Will says:

    I have a question along similar lines. I have a bowl of leftover rice that I cooked earlier this week. I cooked the rice with a heavy dose of chicken broth for flavor.
    Is it kosher to eat it with dinner tonight?

  36. MargaretMN says:

    Not trying to go down the rabbit hole but why is it that people always look to a loophole or a dispensation first and to practical solutions (fridge, freezer, give the sandwich away) second? Are we that litigious? Jews are great in this regard, their dietary rules are strict and complicated and yet they often find creative ways to comply with the letter and the spirit of the rules while living in the real world.

  37. AuroraChristina says:

    Pancetta? Did someone say pancetta???

  38. Chris says:

    “I have a question along similar lines. I have a bowl of leftover rice that I cooked earlier this week. I cooked the rice with a heavy dose of chicken broth for flavor.
    Is it kosher to eat it with dinner tonight?”

    I consulted some traditional priests on this and they said no — it has to be veggie broth if you are making the choice at home what to use but, if it’s canned, and the only veggie canned soup has chicken broth, it’s ok.

  39. Will says:

    Chris, thank you. I suspected as much. I shall eat my rice tomorrow.

  40. opey124 says:

    We can forget being dispensed from anything as, according to our priest, it is left up to us. Use our own judgment. We left feeling like idiots for even asking. [That is a really unhelpful comment. I am sorry your priest did not respond properly. That does not mean others won't. The law is useful for people. People should know that their pastor can dispense in these cases. They should make use of the provisions of the law so that they can be of clear mind and conscience. Your comment wasn't helpful.]

  41. dcs says:

    Besides, abstaining from meat for a day can hardly be considered an act of privation at all- and I am a huge meat eater- consuming half a Lond Broil on most nights.

    I never thought so either until I had children. Then planning meals becomes a bit more difficult.

  42. Chris says:

    “Besides, abstaining from meat for a day can hardly be considered an act of privation at all- and I am a huge meat eater- consuming half a Lond Broil on most nights.”

    Ok, then do it every Friday of the year and, on top of that, do some extra penance.

  43. Nathan says:

    One possibility, if Friday abstinence during Lent isn’t enough, is to voluntarily follow the traditional rules of fast and abstinence. Fasting all the weekdays of Lent really is a privation to us who are so accustomed to plenty. The challenge, I think, is making the practice without wearing it on our shirtsleeves.

    In Christ,

  44. Greg Smisek says:

    The relevant U.S. norms are found in “On Penance and Abstinence” (Nov. 18, 1966):

    [Ash Wednesday and Good Friday: Fast and abstinence obligatory]

    12. 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.

    [All Fridays in Lent: Abstinence preserved]

    13. In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul’s Constitution
    Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence
    from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no
    Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this
    penitential practice.

    [All other weekdays of Lent:
    Voluntary prayer, penance, and alms for the poor strongly recommended]

    14. For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation
    in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the
    light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience
    in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,
    national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate
    our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of
    the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend
    spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the
    traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the
    rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept
    of “mortification.”

    [Works of mercy]

    15. Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special
    solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned,
    the bedridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons
    of other color, nationalities, or backgrounds than our own. A catalogue
    of not merely suggested but required good works under these
    headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord Himself in His description
    of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is
    necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care
    during Lent.


    A USCCB document for the Jubilee Year 2000 provides a brief summary of penitential observances, useful especially for those who think the Church left all that stuff behind.

    A 1983 pastoral letter of the NCCB even urged fasting and abstinence on all Fridays of the year “for the cause of peace” (see nn. 297ff).

  45. breakfast for dinner, that’s how i’m surviving

  46. opey124 says:

    Noted. Thanks

  47. Thomas says:

    http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/fast_and_abstinence.htm

    This is From EWTN on the rules for Fasting and abstinence in the United States. We can only substitute another penance outside of lent, not during lent in the united states.

  48. I have noticed that a number of Latins I know are fasting on Fridays even outside Great Lent. That’s a restricted sample, of course, even more so because the Latins I know with whom I would discuss such topics are fairly traditional, but I’m curious. Is this merely something I’m seeing in my fairly restricted set of associates, or is this a larger trend?

  49. Chris says:

    rightwingprof:

    My family is traditional, yes, and also never eat meat on any Friday unless it falls on a feast day, which is rare.

    We also didn’t start doing this before we became traditional.

    But we have also met a number of conservative novus ordo families who are also rediscovering the tradition. So maybe it’s finally coming back.

    God willing people will ignore the watering down of our Faith over the last 50 years and do these things out of tradition regarless of what current Canon Law states.

  50. Charivari Rob says:

    Father Totton’s reminiscences brought two stories to mind for me.

    One was the cafeteria staff at my Catholic High School having some sort of menu mix-up and defrosting the wrong stuff (burgers or chicken patties) for a Friday in Lent. I think the principal called in the Pastor who granted dispensation to avoid wasting all that food.

    The other was in Boston a few years ago. The liturgical calendar and the Major League Baseball schedule converged to have the Red Sox home opener on a Friday in Lent. In fact, it might even have been the season opener and Good Friday! Anyway, there was a popular call for dispensation. To the Chancery’s credit, the succinct response from Lake Street was “No.”

  51. Patrick says:

    Chicago (and I think Boston, NY) usually have a dispensation when the feast of St. Patrick falls on a Lenten Friday.

  52. dcs says:

    Chicago (and I think Boston, NY) usually have a dispensation when the feast of St. Patrick falls on a Lenten Friday.

    Philly often does as well, but not this year of course as St. Patrick’s Day is a Tuesday.

    Remember also that we do not have to fast or abstain on St. Joseph Day (March 19) and the Annunciation of the BVM (March 25) as these are Solemnities (in fact, St. Joseph Day is a Holy Day of Obligation on the Universal Calendar), as long as they do not fall during Holy Week. So those who are keeping the traditional fast do not have to fast on 3/19 (a Thursday this year) or 3/25 (a Wednesday).

  53. Romulus says:

    Rightwingprof: I guess it depends on how you define fasting. Only one meal in a day? I’m guessing a great many people do that. There’s not really any way to know for sure without asking people to reveal more of their private penances than they may be eager to have known.

  54. Sharon says:

    Will, Chris is incorrect. It is permitted to eat products which contain meat broth. You may choose, as I do, not to do this but you are not compelled to abstain from meat broth.

    As for the “I ate meat because the hostess cooked the meal and would be offended/hurt if I didn’t eat it.” Eat everything but the meat.

    If I was a vegetarian would I even consider eating the meat in a meal whether the hostess would be offended/hurt or not? The Vegetarians I know let their hostess know in advance that they don’t eat meat. Could not the Catholics do likewise?

  55. Agnus Day says:

    Comment by Roland de Chanson:

    Were you really suggesting offering the uneaten HAM sandwich to a Jewish colleague at work, that really would be offensive. What were you thinking? or have I mistaken your post????

  56. Louise says:

    I think the sad thing about changing the Friday penance from abstinence to “a form of penance” is that many people dropped the abstinence but didn’t pick up another penance. I suspect that average Jo and Mary in the pews today would be shocked to learn they should be doing a penance on Friday.

    I was quite young when the Australian bishops changed the abstinence in the \’80s, but my family continued on with the abstinence. This was so ingrained that I have continued it (even when I stayed at a “Catholic” college during university which served fish on Thursdays!!!!…I chose the vegitarian on Fridays)

  57. Liam says:

    Boston & NY do not need dispensations from penitential observation when St Patrick’s falls on a Friday, because St Patrick’s is a patronal solemnity for both archdioceses. Solemnities are not preceptual penitential days. There are always at least 2 Fridays a year without penitential requirements: Easter Friday and Sacred Heart, as both rank as solemnities (I shake my head at Catholic calendars that put a fish on them, especially Easter Friday – the entire Easter Octave is a continuation of Easter Sunday).

  58. chadstei says:

    The patron of my Diocese (Harrisburg PA) is also St Patrick. The Last time St Parick’s Day fell on a Friday we were told we where not dispensed from the lenten fast on that day because the Patron Saint of a Diocese is a Feast not a Solemnity.

  59. Roland de Chanson says:

    Agnus Day: Were you really suggesting offering the uneaten HAM sandwich to a Jewish colleague at work, that really would be offensive. What were you thinking? or have I mistaken your post????

    I congratulate you — you have not mistaken my post, and you got the joke.

    No, I would no more eat half a HAM sandwich in Lent than I would offer a Jewish friend the other half even outside of Lent.

    Some things however I will not give up, for Lent or any other liturgical season.

    As the rabbi once said to the priest, “You should try it. It’s better than HAM.”

  60. Roland de Chanson says:

    In reference to the Seventeeth of March in Boston, that is a local holiday independent of St. Patrick’s Day. It is called Evacuation Day and is a commemoration of the withdawal of the British from Boston Harbor during the Revolution. Despite Bernie Fellay’s condemnation of the Masons who engineered this most liberating feat, it ultimately allowed the Catholic religion to flourish in Boston, while it was still suppressed by les goddams in St. Patrick’s Isle and in St. George’s.

  61. Mark S. says:

    Don’t know if it’s been mentioned already, but as a point of interest, in the UK, Catholics are only required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All other Fridays (including those in Lent) another form of penance may be substituted. There is documentation to this effect on the website for the Bishop’s conference of England and Wales, and I also e-mailed the secretary of my diocesan bishop to clarify this, and he confermed that abstinence from meat was requiered on those two days only. I know this may be a side-issue but thought people may be interested, especially readers in the UK.

  62. When I was young (well into finishing my undergraduate degree), every restaurant, every cafeteria, every school had fish as an option, every Friday throughout the year. Hmmm. I guess I just revealed my age. How different from what some of the commenters have described.

    We are not allowed meat, dairy, eggs, fish, olive oil, or alcohol throughout Lent, nor on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year. Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent we are allowed only water from sunup to sundown, or until after the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the evening (we are allowed fish on Annunciation). Lent or not, I can’t say I’m sympathetic when I hear people complain about having to eat a fish sandwich on a Lenten Friday.

  63. Immaculatae says:

    I read this thread here yesterday. This morning I was reading in St. Faustina’s diary and found this which stood out as pertaining to the Lenten fast.
    St. Faustina’s Diary #1023
    +Today I received some oranges. When the Sister left, I thought to myself, “Should I eat the oranges instead of doing penance and mortifying myself during Holy Lent? After all, I am feeling a bit better.” Then I heard a voice in my soul:
    My daughter, you please Me more by eating the oranges out of obedience and love of Me than by fasting and mortifying yourself of your own will.
    A soul that loves me very much must,ought to live by My will. I know your heart,and I know it will not be satisfied by anything but My love alone.

  64. JJ says:

    Dear Immaculatae,

    Since it seems to be pretty well established in the comments that the law for the US does not allow substitution of penances for the eating of meat on Fridays in Lent, had St Faustina been an American holy obedience would have meant observing that law. That means not eating meat. Whether or not we practice some private penance of our own devising, like not eating oranges, is a lot different than whether or not we do what the Church asks of us.

  65. Louise says:

    JJ, From the quote I surmise that Sr Faustina had been ill and therefore would not be under a requirement to observe the fast or abstinence.

    This is a quote from the EWTN website:
    “Those who are excused from fast or abstinence. Besides those outside the age limits[18-59 for fasting, 14+ for abstinence), those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.”
    If in doubt, ask a priest.