WDTPRS KUDOS to the Bishops of England and Wales: meatless Fridays re-established

If perhaps the Conference of England and Wales won’t be enthusiastic about Universae Ecclesiae I read this with pleasure from the site of Peter Jennings:

Fish on Friday re-established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

By Peter Jennings · May 13, 2011

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have re-established the Friday Penance of abstaining from meat on a Friday[Do I hear an “Amen!”?  Catholics are bound to do penance on Fridays, but conferences play a role in establishing what that penitential practice is to be.]

The law will come into force on Friday 16 September 2011, the First Anniversary of the State Visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom in 2010[Is it therefore reasonable to connect this move with Pope Benedict’s wishes?  Perpend.]

Following their Spring Meeting at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, Monday 9 to Thursday 12 May 2011, the Catholic media office issued the following statement (13 May 2011) under the heading Catholic Witness – Friday Penance:

By the practice of penance every Catholic identifies with Christ in his death on the cross. We do so in prayer, through uniting the sufferings and sacrifices in our lives with those of Christ’s passion; in fasting, by dying to self in order to be close to Christ; in alms-giving, by demonstrating our solidarity with the sufferings of Christ in those in need. All three forms of penance form a vital part of Christian living. When this is visible in the public arena, then it is also an important act of witness.

Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.

The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance[May we all soon be well-known in all society for our Friday penance, as of old.]

Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance[Huzzah!]

The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.

Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. [Or… perhaps go hungry.]

This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.

Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice.  In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.

WDTPRS KUDOS to the Bishops of England and Wales in their resolution.

This is a small thing, perhaps, but then also not so small.  You might say that there are many other things which need the attention of the bishops there, and their strong, bold, resolve.  But all journeys begin with first steps and, even well along the way, small steps still carry you forward when the ground itself is treacherous.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Clerical Sexual Abuse, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Amen!
    May our Bishops in the USA follow suit.
    Re-establishing Catholic identity, brick-by-brick:)!

  2. Ezra says:

    You might say that there are many other things which need the attention of the bishops there, and their strong, bold, resolve.

    Yes. Still, this is excellent news, and the UK bishops deserve their flocks’ thanks.

  3. benedetta says:

    Not at all just a small thing. The Bishops here would be wise to follow this example and ask the same of Catholics in the U.S.

  4. justamouse says:

    Love it.

    It’s made my faith all the richer. Bring it to the US, please.

  5. Marianna says:

    I hadn’t even realized this rule no longer applied, though I did suspect it was no longer widely observed! In my family, when I was growing up, meat was never eaten on Fridays, and I still don’t do it.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    The Bishops conference of england and wales doing something collectively to build up Catholic Identity……..does not compute………….does not compute. …………… Seriously though I am glad their Graces are doing something good, who knows perhaps the Ghost of Cardinal Heenan is stalking the corridors of Ecclestone square

  7. disco says:

    This is perhaps the best news day for the church in many years. Maybe the fishwrap filing for bankruptcy Monday morning shall come to pass?

  8. Charles E Flynn says:

    I have found that the easiest way to remember not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent is to not eat meat on Fridays.

  9. Alan Aversa says:

    How many other dioceses have established meatless Fridays? This seems like a big deal! I wonder if Universæ Ecclesiæ had anything to do with it?

  10. Alan Aversa says:

    The English must miss fish ‘n’ chips. haha

  11. Charles E Flynn says:

    Alan Aversa,

    I just sent a friend of mine a link to this thread with the title:

    It is all a plot to sell fish ‘n chips

    One of my friend’s best lines is a response to the question of whether he would like to send his children to the Ivy League university of which he is a graduate. His response:
    “Why would I want to spend $160,00 to get back a post-Christian pagan with poor sleep hygiene?”

  12. Maybe we ought to petition our bishops in the U.S. to bring back meatless Fridays. And while they’re at it, to bring back Ascension THURSDAY and quit moving holy days of obligation to Sunday, even if it means (horror!) we have to attend Mass two days in a row.

  13. Laura R. says:

    You hear an “Amen!” from me, Father.

    I was received into the Church at Easter 2010; during RCIA I got the idea that abstinence from meat on Fridays was simply no longer required except in Lent. Then I met individual Catholics who still abstain year-round, and decided to begin doing so myself. I’m happy to find that it adds a dimension to my spiritual life that I hadn’t even expected. Let’s hope the U.S. bishops follow suit; it would be a wonderful way to re-establish a corporate Catholic witness to the wider culture.

  14. shane says:

    This is very positive. It was an absolute disgrace that this was ever abolished in the first place. These little quirks may seem trivial but they are vital in building up a Catholic culture. I remember reading the historian Eamon Duffy (a man of liberal sympathies) criticising the dropping of the fast and pointing out that the purpose of the sacred is to disrupt the secular.

    The Church in the English speaking countries was by far the most vigorous portion of the Latin Church on the eve of the Council but after the Conciliar/post-Conciliar deforms Catholics became culturally indistinguishable from their mostly Protestant compatriots.

  15. StabatMater says:

    How providential! When I first converted 18 years ago I fasted & abstained from meat every Wed. & Fri. for a few years. And then I had kids… So today was actually my first Friday, outside of Lent, committing to it. Living in south Louisiana, I am not sure that I have much of an excuse to not abstain. Thanks for posting the article & comments. The sacrifical union among Catholics hadn’t dawned on me until now. It is that very element of services on Good Friday that I so love– the universal Church praying the same petitions, same day. Seems like it’s the only time we are all on the same page (or at least close to it ;).

  16. Carolina Geo says:

    This is big news! BIG! In my opinion, the virtual elimination of penance on Fridays was one of the biggest negative changes in the post-concilar era of the Church. (The introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass was the biggest, but that’s a different can of worms) For one, it eliminated one of the biggest identifiers of Catholic culture and unity throughout the world. Second, it seemed to signal to the entire world that penance in the Church was not necessary anymore. This is hardly the case; penance is needed now perhaps more than ever in the Church. For a group of bishops to recognize this is absolutely astounding to me; perhaps I should have a more positive outlook on the episcopacy, but they have collectively given me little reason to hope any more. This, though, rekindles hope. I just pray that the American bishops follow suit.

    I think they could have stated one thing differently: it is my understanding (somebody please correct me if I’m wrong) that in the pre-Concilar years, eating meat on Friday constituted a mortal sin. This should have been specifically re-established in order to provide even more force to their statement and intent.

    Nevertheless, this is a big step in the right direction for the Church in the UK.

  17. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Our family gave up meat about two years ago, from something I read (here, I think, but maybe somewhere else) about some people who gave Friday’s meat up because of the murder of so many innocent babies through abortion.

    I could eat Costco stuffed salmon every Friday night (I know the stuffing is fake, but the salmon isn’t) but I try to go with cheese sandwich at lunch and canned tuna sandwich at dinner. (pretty much yucch, and not likely to get the Fr Z recipe post.)

    It’s REALLY tough when we have a large party in our tea room and the cook asks me to sample the chicken salad sandwich (no thanks) or the roast beef (not today, thanks) or the sausage rolls (NO!) or the chicken devan (GO AWAY!).

    But it’s all worth it when I hear my teen-aged daughter tell a piano student who’s trying to sell her on going to a Friday night spaghetti fundraiser that she can’t. How come, asks the student? We give up meat on Fridays for the dead babies, she said. Huh? I have no idea how her piano student thinks now (she’s only 11), but I KNOW my daughter knows why we do it.


  18. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I hope people actually DO it. There’s a lot of things Catholics are supposed to be doing that they don’t. (hopefully this will be something people across the board will joyfully welcome.) And is it going to be a mortal or a venial sin? Are they going to start encouraging Confession for those who mess up and eat meat on Friday? This may start some dominoes rolling…

    I googled the subject and found that the US bishops had decided to “study” the issue in 1996 (study?) Andrew Greeley wrote a snarky response saying they were out of touch, what was done was done, while they’re at it why don’t they do this this and this, what makes them think anyone is going to pay attention, etc etc. Unfortunately he has a point about not paying attention. But rules in the Church have been tightened up before, and people have responded, so what is done isn’t necessarily done for good.

  19. TKS says:

    I am old enough to remember when it was forbidden to eat meat on Friday. Then is wasn’t and no teaching on doing something else instead. When I found that out on my own a number of years ago, I went back to no meat on Fridays. And I have always HATED fish – I’m such a carnivore so today it’s an egg sandwich or a tuna sandwich with very little tuna. Yuck.

  20. nanetteclaret says:

    “Penance” on Fridays was never abolished. It’s just that the Bishops decided that they would leave “penance” to everyone’s discretion. So, for some people “penance” might be an act of charity like visiting the sick, for others it might be saying a Rosary, but for Mr. Claret and me it’s “Fish on Friday.” Why should I have to rack my brain to think of something that might be an act of charity? What if it isn’t charitable enough? What if I choose saying the Rosary, except it really isn’t an act of penance because I like saying the Rosary? The Bishops, when thinking they were helping us to become adults in letting us decide what type of penance to do, actually did us a disservice because it left the whole idea open to “nuance.” Hence, some people just “nuanced” themselves into not doing anything! To reiterate: The easiest way to keep the Lenten discipline of no meat on Friday is to just do it throughout the year. Then it is a habit – and one that speaks volumes to the world.

  21. benedetta says:

    It’s an excellent step, and need not involve polemics/polarization at all. It’s something everyone could agree upon.

  22. According to an unnamed source, Archbishop Gordons of Gloucester and the Right Reverend Authur Treacher were the driving forces behind the initiative.

  23. anthtan says:

    Professor Eamon Duffy must be delighted that the Bishops of his land are bringing back Friday abstinence from meat. Perhaps they heard his talk in 2003.

  24. Luvadoxi says:

    This is *great* news! I’m one who thought that (and still wonder whether) penance in the U.S. is just optional, so I wasn’t doing any. Then I got to wondering about it and a priest suggested doing something. Of course, since Easter, Fridays have been coming and going and I keep forgetting. But today I remembered–yea! I also agree that it’s hard coming up with some alternative penance and wondering if it’s enough. No meat on any Friday (except, I guess solemnities?)–easier to remember and definitely a cultural identity factor.

  25. Warren says:

    This is very good news. Let’s hope the bishops of all lands restore a few more of our great Catholic practices/disciplines. It’s the so-called “little” things that aid Catholic identity and spill over into the public square. Things like processionals (our first diocesan Corpus Christi procession in at least three decades will occur this year!), Eucharistic and Marian congresses, etc., help inform the culture and remind Catholics and non-catholics alike that Catholicism is a personal and public religion.

  26. Dave N. says:

    I agree with the many who have observed that this is NOT a small thing. It’s important for Catholic identity.

  27. Clinton says:

    John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Cardinal Archbishop of New York, kept meatless Fridays
    as an act of penance and reparation for abortion in this land. I agree with Dave N. above–
    this is not a small thing, and something I have tried to do since I read about His

    It would be wonderful if our Bishop’s Conference here in the States took a page from the
    book of the Bishops of England and Wales.

  28. mike cliffson says:

    Good news.
    There is a loooong way to go yet: education, institutional collaboration with the culture of death……
    Nonetheless, it’s surprising. I suspect many of my lord Bishops are my generation, God forgive me, I was in favour,how we ACHED in the sixties to be accepted, integrated, to not stand out, to blend in. What a price we’ve paid! Even recognizing that ,it can’t have been easy to backtrack into having a profile again! Just think: back then we were 15%? total population, pushing 25% of the urban population, 50% of prison inmates: enough for prisons to serve fish on fridays.
    From a song other pilgrims will remember, called strangeways Hotel, about strangeways(real name, and the only public building in the Uk built in neomozarabic style) prison manchester, sung by a probably catholic youth:
    “There’s Fish every friday, there’s fish 3 foot wide
    It covers up the plate and hangs over the side
    You can tell that it’s Friday, just by the smell
    For the fish have all done time at the strangeways hotel!”
    Here’s to being the spat-on dregs, the first out in recession, the first blamed in crime, the cannonfodder, the innocent sufferers on the cross- Not material fun , but better than bourgois more-water in-your-beer friends of the world.

  29. Fr Levi says:

    I consider this great news – it is identity building in the sense that it reminds the practitioner of who they are, and it displays to all who see them who they are …and let’s face it, we all sometimes need a push to remind us to do the things we ought. Also, a good ecumenical move as the Easatern Church tends to see the Western as being a bit ‘lite’ on things like penance.

  30. Brooklyn says:

    The comments here are as good as anything that Father Z writes. It is so good to know there are Catholics who truly do take their religion seriously. Yes, it was a mortal sin years ago to eat meat on Friday. It was also wrong for anyone but a priest to touch a consecrated host, and I could go on and on. It almost seems there has been a conscious effort to completely gut the Catholic religion but I am convinced more than ever that the Holy Spirit just is not going to allow it. AMEN!!!!

  31. This is a small thing, perhaps, but then also not so small.

    British historian Eamon Duffy, fairly liberal on many Church issues, has said lifting the Friday abstention rules was the single-most disastrous decision made by the bishops in the aftermath of the Council. So from that perspective re-establishing it is a very big thing.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    Great news and two of us lay people we discusing how good such practices were for the entire culture not merely the Catholics.

  33. Patti Day says:

    I am reminded of the answer my friend and colleague, Deacon Conny, gave in reference to a question after the bishops had relaxed the Friday penance:

    My question: “What happens now to all those people who died while it was still a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday, and didn’t confess it?”

    His answer: “There is no Grandfather Clause.”

  34. The Convert says:

    I’m sorry but half hearted action like this just does not cut it with me. While the vast majority of Catholics are being misled and treated like a bunch of idiots these men are going to reintroduce something that never left. Then it is called a move forward, wow, we’re in deeper trouble then I thought. What are they going to reintroduce next? Gee maybe Eucharistic Prayer number 1.

  35. dcs says:

    And is it going to be a mortal or a venial sin?

    One of the precepts of the Church is to observe the days of fast and abstinence established by the Church.

  36. frjim4321 says:

    Wonder how that would be greeted in the U.S. if the U.S. bishops did likewise. (And surely someone will jump on the bandwagon at the summer meeting.) I wonder if many U.S. Catholics would reply, “get your own house in order first” before telling US to do more penance.

    As a devoted lover of all things “fish” (especially sushi) I never find that giving up meat is penance.

  37. bourgja says:

    Of course I agree that the penitential practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays should be re-established in the U.S., but I am not sure that the reasoning given by some U.S. bishops (i.e., to do penance on behalf of sinful practices of others such as abortion) is entirely sound. It could very well lead to an attitude of self-righteousness (we’re doing this because others are sinners). Instead, it should be re-established with a clear sense that we are doing penance for our own sins.

  38. Joseph-Mary says:

    I know that some sort of penance was always on the books but….

    Anyway, my children never knew there was an option to meatless Fridays and surprised to learn there is; it has been tradition in my family. It is also part of the Rule of a Franciscan Tertiary which I am.

    We need it back. It is a small thing but it makes one pause and then have something to offer to the Lord. Some years ago I was in a business that went to lunch on Fridays at a rib place. I love ribs and BBQ. I never had them during all the time we went there; folks just thought I was a vegetarian.

  39. Luvadoxi says:

    I was a child, and not Catholic, before Vatican II, so I didn’t know Catholic culture (until I converted 7 years ago, actually), but I knew someone who, when the fish-on-Fridays penance was dropped except for Lent, became confused and it shook her faith. I’m surprised she didn’t know the difference between a discipline and a doctrine, having grown up in a more Catholic culture. But it shook her to the core.

  40. Luvadoxi says:

    But Father, but Father!
    I’ve been wondering about something for a long time. Reading Jimmy Akin’s take on Friday penance, and reading the documents, it seems to me that penance on Fridays in the U.S. is highly recommended but not mandatory (except during Lent). No one wants to encourage minimalism, so it’s hard to get a straight answer on this, but many priests and most Catholics seem to agree. I’ve gone on this assumption but I don’t want to think I committed a serious sin by not doing penance. Of course, my conscience got me worried about this and I discussed it with a priest who mentioned the pastoral reasons for the change…and then said I should do some sort of penance (without addressing the rule per se). Perhaps it’s pharisaical to get too nit-picky about this, but I did study law and tend to want to know the intention of the framers of documents….

  41. benedetta says:

    frjum4321, So you anticipate that the bishops of the u.s. would exempt themselves? It sounds like you are for, the more and more polemics and the polarization.

    Still, it could be just as simple and obvious as what it is. I do it anyway and no it isn’t linked to abortion. Maybe we ought to just do it and see what God makes of it…

    Obviously if we have the polemics and the polarization about something which should be a no-brainer, for all, then, we will really never get around to it will we…

  42. fieldsparrow says:

    There’s a really high population of Catholics here, so it’s pretty common to have fish fries and non-meat options even in school and work cafeterias. Pierogies for everyone! But when I talked to some of my (cradle) Catholic coworkers, they tend not to observe a meatless Friday and generally view Friday penance as optional. Is it, in the US? I didn’t think so, per the USCCB documents, but I saw someone else mention this upthread as well.

  43. green fiddler says:

    I didn’t know this until a few years ago and could not quote the document. But as Fr. Z indicated, Catholics are bound to do penance on Fridays. The requirement was changed so that we do not necessarily abstain from meat, but we are expected to fast from another food or treat of our choice. For someone who doesn’t crave meat, eating a tuna fish sandwich might not be such a sacrifice and could actually be more of a consolation. In that case, giving up music or chocolate or freecell might be a better choice. It should be something that will be missed throughout the day. This is a small gift to offer to our Lord, in remembrance and thanksgiving for His great sacrifice for us on Calvary.

  44. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    But I expect the Mexicans won’t ever be bound by this…once again, an affirmative action ‘pass’ for the rich Mexican ranchero who can eat all the BBQ he wants on a Friday, but Appalatian Joe is supposed to get a guilt complex if there are only hotdogs to eat on the Friday. I’m okay with this as a discipline IF it applies to EVERYONE. But Not where some cultures get a ‘free pass.’ Everyone can resume playing ‘hold the tail of the elephant in front of you.’

  45. For all those who are encouraged by this news from England to begin observing meatless Fridays as a penance (my family has also been doing this for many years), I would just like to remind you that meatless does not mean you have to eat fish!

    Most of the monastic orders were traditionally vegetarian most of the year, and there are scores of recipes available. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches also observe abstinence throughout the year, and there are cookbooks available. For those looking to take the plunge, here are a few suggestions.

    From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook by Brother Victor D’Avila-Latourrette.

    Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by the same author.

    The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking: Essential Meatless Recipes for the Home Cook by the same author.

    A Lenten Cookbook for Orthodox Christians

    A Fasting Cookbook by Rita Hanna, a downloadable Word file hosted by St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland, CA.

  46. John Nolan says:

    While they’re at it, they can also restore the 3-hour eucharistic fast.

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    This is HUGE, not merely because it is penance and not merely because it’s expected, but because it will mark Catholics out in the culture as the exception to the rule. It will become immediately plain at workplaces, in restaurants and in family groups who is Catholic and serious about it. This is something that has been avoided at all costs by Catholics for years, lusting after cultural, social & economic legitimacy as they have for the last half century. It’s really amazing that this has been declared in Britain. Amazing. Whether rank-and-file Catholics do it or not, it’s amazing because of what it says about their bishops. And also what it says about the changes taking place in the Church as we speak.

    Frjim4321 and others, it’s not about giving up meat per se. It’s about a person having to remember abstinence from meat every Friday thus moving their religious practice to the front of their daily activities once a week on a weekday, and it’s also all about BEING SEEN bypassing meat Friday after Friday in social situations. It’s an unmistakable pattern that WILL BE NOTICED.

    There is another interesting point about committing to something here which should not be missed. The point can be made that it’s odd that even a mark of identity for Catholics must be enforced in terms of salvation or eternal damnation. And there are those who would get a lot of mileage out of that, for obvious reasons. It is odd. But then again, it does mark out those who are willing to do it on their own free will vs. those who will not. After all, it’s so easy to just walk away from the Church now that the penalties have lost their sting in the minds of most people. There are a large number of people who pay no attention to penalties or commitments and just careen through now and then for the ambience of Catholicism, having in truth left long ago, even if not in body.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    John Nolan,
    The 3 hour fast is an intra-church thing. It will have no where near the effect that meatless Fridays will. The culture will take no notice, because they are simply not aware of us at 6AM Sunday morning, thus it will not appreciable change any real measure of Catholic identity in the way meatless Fridays would.

  49. Dr. Eric says:

    Bring back the Ember Days!

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    Luvadoxi, you said, “…I’m surprised she didn’t know the difference between a discipline and a doctrine, having grown up in a more Catholic culture. But it shook her to the core.”

    Yes, it’s very common for “small” things like this to really shake Catholics. Sometimes they just cannot tell the difference between things essential to the faith and simple practices because so much emphasis is put on these articles of practice “in themselves,” and so little emphasis is put on the essential things, like core doctrine, the deposit of faith and the body of Scripture. Catholics can get very “anal” about small points that the rest of us, including converts, don’t understand as being essential to the faith at all. Some of it is purely cultural, some familial, some regional or ethnic. Some really is connected to doctrine, some not so much and it’s very difficult for cradle catholics to tell which is which. And this extends to people very high up in the church, BTW. It was part of the difficulty in Vatican 2.

    In light of this, the creation of a structure that says an omission of identity is a mortal sin has an immediate downside. Example: A person willingly eats a gumdrop at 2AM and then goes to mass at 8AM. In 1940, they go to hell. In 1970, they don’t go to hell. If they live in Britain in 2012, they go to hell. Impossible to explain for the average Catholic. Therefore capable of causing the consternation your friend experienced.

    Too bad this thing is so brittle that we can’t have a better way to reinforce & express Catholic identity. There is a lot of room for volition that we don’t seem to be accounting for very well. And I’m going to ask the question that typically might occur to a convert, if no one else: Do most Catholics really hate being Catholic so much that you have to do this stuff to them to get them to show up & comply??? Really???? It sure the heck looks like it. WHY?????

  51. Supertradmum says:

    No one I have talked to here in England is surprised by this statement. The good Catholics were already abstaining and the vast majority of weak or rebellious Catholics will ignore it.

  52. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, Luvadoxi,

    The confusion is one of mistaking a symbol for something for that something in itself. It’s quite fascinating to watch. You can get into very protracted and convoluted arguments about things like hats and body motions, where those things have taken on meanings that are quite arcane and intricate, yet very important to some people. Yet, hats themselves are just hats from a propositional point of view; hand motions are just hand motions from that same point of view; this, regardless of what they are from some other point of view. And those same people will almost always have trouble explaining to you analytically exactly how those symbols relate to the deposit of faith or to Scripture, and they will find themselves at a total loss to explain how those symbols might apply to an a Bushman, for instance. Who is, of course, not barred from salvation merely because of his hatlessness, not to mention his nakedness (!).

    Culturally at least, and maybe philosophically and even theologically, Catholics don’t seem to have developed the meta-level, object-level language that enables them to talk about these things well, or even intelligently. Analogies are analogies and they are one of the senses of faith, of course, along with the others. But they are analogies, and not the objects of themselves, unless they are so in some recursive way. Perhaps they are even special analogies which have a truth in themselves, a special class of analogies, but they are still analogies and not objects of those same analogies. This thing is fascinating and needs serious development in a spirit of fidelity. There may be a lot here that could be beneficial to the church.

  53. EWTN Rocks says:


    I believe some Catholics in the U.S. do abstain from meat on Fridays because it is part of their Catholic identity. I say this because my parents have been abstaining from meat on Fridays (every Friday throughout the year) for as long as I can remember (35+ years) because they are Catholic. Although I haven’t personally followed this practice throughout my life, I have been abstaining from meat on Fridays since Lent and plan to continue to do so.

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    BTW, this understanding may be especially urgent since the general culture has developed methods that people commonly use, whether they understand the mechanics of thought at all or not, to bridge these relationships between symbolic and object level thought. Not all of them fall under the term “relativism,” although some do. No one is currently laying out how that distinction works from the point of view of Catholicism either.

    People do comprehend symbolic meanings and distinguish them from object meanings in their daily lives, you know. They do it all the time, and many great jokes are constructed when such stuff can be twisted into an unexpected form which everyone knows is a jest by the context it stands within.

  55. I can talk about meta level stuff as much as you want. But when it comes to the Faith, too much mucking about with meta… it smacks of making excuses, not taking God and the Church seriously, and generally cruising for either a bruising (by your parents losing patience with your backtalk) or a humorous pointed experiential lesson from the Holy Spirit (which will often be MUCH WORSE punishment than a bruising, not to mention being ten thousand times more embarrassing and memorable).

    Some people don’t know the difference between doctrine and discipline, sure. But other people just trusted the bishops and teachers of the Church, and got kicked around and blamed for their pains, and therefore felt betrayed by man and God. Even people who don’t consciously understand the former can definitely tell when they’re suffering from the latter.

Comments are closed.