QUAERITUR: Friday fish and chips cooked in beef fat? WDTPRS POLL: “meatless Fridays”.


From a reader:

I was watching TV last night & on the program they were talking about fish & chips fried in rendered beef fat at a restaurant.

Fish & Chips is one of my favorite Friday dishes and I assume that it’s cooked in vegetable oil of some kind. But, if I am at a restaurant, how could I know if they don’t state something on the menu (pretty common in California where I live). If it doesn’t say anything and I order and eat the fish & chips cooked in beef fat on a Friday in Lent have I broken the abstinence rules? Or is the fat merely the method of cooking, sort of like boiling pasta in water.


Remember that if you cook pasta in water, the pasta absorbs the water.  If the fish and chips are cooked in beef fat, you are also consuming some beef fat.

This is a great question for an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist.

Prümmer says,

“The law of abstinence forbids eating meat and broth from meat, but not eggs, milk products, and also whatsoever condiments from the fat of animals.”

Sabetti-Barrett says:

“QUAER. 2. Quid dicendum de usu laridi?

Resp. Certum est non licere illud edere per frustra…

What is to be said about the use of lard?

Resp. It is clear that it is not permitted to eat it groundlessly and for an accompaniment with bread, because it is considered meat. It is permitted to use it even in evening snacks (refectiuncula), either as a condiment or in order to cook foods, provided that beforehand it will have been liquified. …

But wait! There’s more!

[Time for a COFFEE BREAK!]

Mystic Monk CoffeePaul VI’s Poenitemini says:

“The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing–as far as quantity and quality are concerned–approved local custom.”

The language of “condiments” has remained.

Therefore, you can cook your fish in beef fat.  Use of fat from beef would not violate your abstinence from meat.

Thank you for being concerned about this.

Last August I posted a WDTPRS POLL about what you think about the proposition that the US bishops should reestablish meatless Fridays as our form of penance for all Fridays of the year. The bishops of England and Wales did this.

I am repeating that poll (with a slight difference) here below.

You can vote even if you are not registered here. Please give your reasons in the combox below, respecting always the people who make arguments other than your own.

Should the US Bishops have us return to obligatory "meatless Fridays" during the whole year and not just during Lent?

View Results

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Liz says:

    I researched this about a year ago because we butcher our own pigs and render the lard. (Also, this year I rendered tallow from the fat from a side of beef we ordered. ) I was concerned about this because of pies (or quiche—a Friday meal around here sometimes) and pastries made with lard and/or tallow in it. (BTW this makes the most amazing pie crusts–I use butter too.) I came to the same conclusion.

  2. Margaret says:

    Does a broth derived from meat (beef, chicken, turkey, whatever) fall under the “condiment” category?

    What about the surprise bits of bacon that seem to turn up with some regularity in Boston Clam Chowder? It always surprises me, because clam chowder seems to me to be a dish created with meatless Friday in mind, and it is often entirely meat-free, but not always…

  3. Mariana says:

    No fear, restaurants will use cheap vegetable oils.

  4. ContraMundum says:

    I think I could give up my usual bread and lard without much difficulty.

    Also any condiments made out of lard. [Keep in mind that “lard” has a broader definition than what you might be used to. In Italy, for example, there are forms of lard, sliced incredibly thin, which is memorably delicious with bread.]

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Unless you are a very young person, avoid fat-fried food unless you are using poly-unsaturated fats. When you get older, you will not want high cholesterol levels. There are other oils you can fry things in, and many restaurants, at least in Europe, advertise no beef fat-fried foods. You can use or find places using Omega-3 oils with fish and chips. Beef fat is highly unusual in most areas now, as it is more expensive than others. Also, if a lady is pregnant, Omega-3s are really important, but I think when I was preggies I went off fish and chips, anyway. Ate liver like a fiend..

    For the record, in the old days when Friday was a meat-free day, my mom only used non-meat fat, and so did many carry-out fish places in my hometown. Fried catfish is big still in Davenport, Iowa, and that was a treat on Meatless Fridays. “Trans Fat Free” restaurants are labelled TFF now. But, as Father Z said, it is ok to use the beef fat, just not as healthy.

  6. Elizabeth D says:

    Fried fish is definitely special occasion treat food for me. I abstain from meat perpetually, so on Fridays and during Lent also from eggs, dairy foods, and seafood and try to avoid fried foods.

  7. Dismas says:

    Yes, I think obligatory “meatless Fridays” are very important, let’s count the ways. This will be fun, I’ll start.

    1. Meatless Fridays help keep me mindful of our Lord’s Friday sacrifice on the Cross.
    2. Meatless Fridays help keep me mindful of all my petitions and my constant reliance on God’s mercy.
    3. Meatless Fridays help keep me mindful of my connection to the Body of Christ and our Church.

  8. mrose says:

    I voted “Yes and I think this is very important.”

    1. Abstaining from meat as a spiritual practice is of ancient origin and practiced consistently throughout the history of the Church.
    2. Subduing the flesh, denying ourselves bodily pleasures as a sacrifice and to raise our minds and souls to heavenly contemplation is vital to the spiritual life. There is even scientific evidence about the effects of eating animal products, most of all meat, on the pleasure receptors in the brain, etc. – the Church has been on to something since before science could “prove it.”
    3. Public penance in solidarity with our brethren across the world and across time is an important component to living as Catholics, and is a witness to the world.

  9. Nomen Interretiarii says:

    When I saw the poll I voted “yes, and I think this is very important” without skipping a beat. Then I took the time to read the rest of the options, which got me thinking…. Fisrt of all it is very important to have some type of regular penance. This suffering, as a sacrifice of self, is redemptive. Through suffering you can sanctify yourself by denying your own desires, ordering your will to God. You also sacntify the Church by making reperation for sin etc. Both outcomes are good, and God uses the evil of suffering for good (as illustrated by Christ) so therefore a regular penance can be a good thing.
    One such penance is the traditional meatless Fridays. So making the meatless Fridays obligatory sounds like a great idea, more people would be doing penance, sanctifying themsleves and the Church. But on the other hand there would be a whole ton of people, at least at first, that would not follow the mandate; they’d more often than not be sinning, unless they were ignorant. So the idea of having meatless Fridays is akin to the idea of having Holy Days of Obligation on non-Sundays. It would be great to celebrate the Feast on the traditional day but many people would miss Mass and sin. So would it really be a good idea to make meatless Fridays obligatory when a great number might not floow the mandate? Surely if they were to become obligatory a lot of catechesis would be required.

    And I would change my vote.

  10. Philangelus says:

    I voted “Yes, I guess so.” I’ve personally tried to keep meatless Fridays (or substitute a penance instead) for the past fifteen years or so. But I don’t feel I personally have the authority to say it should be mandatory for all Catholics. :-)

    And, to be honest, on the Fridays where I slip and have to do the Divine Mercy chaplet instead, I already feel guilty enough — I don’t want to feel as if I’ve sinned by not going meatless on Fridays.

    Therefore, I’d like to keep it in the same realm as daily Mass and the daily Rosary: awesome and should definitely be encouraged for all, but I would not want to go out on a limb and make it mandatory.

  11. acardnal says:

    Hmmmmm……so it’s okay to eat french fries cooked in /lard but we can’t enjoy soups with beef or chicken broth base. Interesting.

  12. acardnal says:

    above should have read “beef fat/lard.”

  13. trad catholic mom says:

    I’ve never heard of restaurant that uses tallow for frying. Interesting.

  14. acardnal says:

    I am fairly certain that McDonald’s used to cook their fries in beef fat (the reason they were the best!) until just a few years ago when there was a public outcry (fat police) and they switched to a vegetable oil

  15. acardnal says:

    I concur with Dismas’ reasons above for returning to meatless Fridays. I have met only one other person in recent years who observed meatless Fridays as I do. Americans are spoiled and could use the self-discipline abstinence imposes upon those who live in a rich country like the USA. I also do my best to pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, too.

    I want to say “Hi” to “Elizabeth D.” above. I, too, reside in the Madison area. God bless Bishop Morlino. Pray for his continued good health.

  16. Scarltherr says:

    When I make clam chowder, I sweat the veggies in a little bacon fat to add the flavor that bacon gives. I’m glad to know this practice is licit. Since I regularly cook for men who do hard physical work both on Fridays and Saturdays, I try to keep the Friday abstinence as hearty as possible for their sakes, and make something lighter for myself. A little extra work, but I think they appreciate it.

  17. MJFarber says:

    It was with chagrin I learned last year that the hard cheese I have eaten as a Friday fast staple was made with rennet. Is rennet like lard in the sense that it is okay to consume? And is rennet acceptable in other foods like puddings and soft cheeses?

  18. Vegetarians worry about rennet. The Church has never worried about rennet, AFAIK. (Much like vegetarians never worry about killing and eating yeasts or other small living creatures.)

  19. pelerin says:

    The list of ingredients on packets often shows up surprises. A recent packet of sweets included Beef gelatine as one of the ingredients. Another way of getting caught out unawares if you don’t read the packet until after having eaten!

  20. kat says:

    My dad used to put it this way: People won’t stop at intersections without stop signs/ stop lights. Catholics need boundaries, and in fact, in the Old Testament God punished those who had disobeyed yet “sacrificed” , by saying “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” So yes, I believe this is important, and that meatless Fridays should be back on the menu.

  21. Denis says:

    Meatless Fridays may even lead to heresyless Sundays.

  22. Hmm. Apparently, there has been some rennet concern somewhere. I found a quote claiming that some cheesemakers used “sour herbs” instead of rennet to get the desired rennet effects during Lent. But this may also have been a “we don’t want to slaughter a critter just to get rennet, and then have to give the rest to the dogs” thing.

    Of course, a hard fast for Lent used to exclude milk and dairy and eggs altogether, so nobody had to worry about what cheese was made of.

  23. APX says:

    No fear, restaurants will use cheap vegetable oils.
    If one’s really in doubt, one could just ask that their fish be dipped in a beer batter and lightly fried in a skillet. I don’t do deep fried fish, and I have yet to run into a restaurant that is not willing to do this for me.

    I voted that “I don’t care”. I live in a country where this is in force, but I have never heard it spoken about outside the of the EF Masses I attend. My family does not believe me that I’m simply not being some “pre-Vatican II Extreme Catholic” and that meatless Fridays still exist. While this is fine and dandy when I’m on my own, every time I go home or my family comes to visit me, all it does is give them another reason to mock me. They will make a special point to BBQ some sort of exquisite type of meat and then eat it front of me all the while making comments about how “delicious this is. Mother Theresa doesn’t know what she’s missing out on.” In the meantime, I don’t find I get anything out of it spiritually. Really, it’s not difficult to abstain from meat, and it doesn’t feel like some sort of sacrifice. Perhaps if it was Vegan Fridays requiring at least one tofu dish or “Gross Fish Sandwich Fridays” I would at least feel like I’m doing some sort of penance and sacrifice.

  24. jeffreyquick says:

    Those who have a better sense of Catholic cultural history than I could correct me, but it seems that the “OMG! There’s GELATIN in this” response to the Friday abstinence has more to do with modern vegetarianism or orthodox kosher rules than the tradition. It seems that the main thing is intent. One might not know what sort of fat is used in a restaurant, or whether a pie crust is lard or Crisco. And if you don’t know, and could not reasonably know, are you culpable? Supposedly Pope Gregory I decreed that rabbits were aquatic and thus OK for Fridays. And having raised and butchered them, I assure you that they are made of meat.

  25. Norah says:

    Would this return to meatless Fridays bind under pain of sin? Even if it did I don’t think those who don’t think twice of missing Holy Mass or using artificial contraception on Sunday will give abstinence on Friday a second thought. That leaves the die hards, the rusted on Catholics who probably are abstaining, as I am, anyway.

    I think that the day is long past when the Church could instruct Catholics on penances and expect to be obeyed.

  26. Taylor says:

    Although it’s an interesting question, it almost seems to me to border on legalism. If you’re abstaining from meat in order to follow the precept, and that’s about it, you’re just doing the bare minimum–which I fall into all the time. So let us not worry so much about if our fish is cooked in beef fat, but rather recall what abstaining from meat is really about–remembering and united ourselves to the day Our Lord offered up His flesh for us.

  27. Clinton says:

    The late John Cardinal O’Connor of New York kept meatless Fridays. I read a biography of
    him years ago that stated that he did so as an act of reparation for the sin of abortion in this
    country. Since reading that, I have done the same.

    I think it is an excellent idea for Catholics to have common ‘markers’ that set us apart from the
    general population. Universal meatless Fridays would help build up our common identity as

  28. xsosdid says:

    This (meatless fridays) is a discepline I like, though I have never had much success in my own life implementing it.

    I do recommend, however, making french fries in pure lard. Pure as in non-hydrogenated as the hydrogen turns it into trans fat. Pure lard has an exceptionally high smoke point and makes nice, crispy fries!!

  29. Irene says:

    It is my understanding that we in the U.S. do have meatless Fridays, but it is no longer obligatory. In other words we definitely “should” (no longer “must”) either abstain from meat or substitute another form of penance (or almsgiving or work of charity), but abstaining from meat is preferred. Apparently many Catholics do not know this, and that is why we see the Knights of Columbus and Altar and Rosary Societies having “meatful” dinners on Fridays.

    Back in the day, it was not a difficult concept, and all practicing Catholics took it in stride. We all had our favorite tuna casserole recipes…. It should not be difficult to reinstate it as an obligation under pain of sin. Announce it well ahead of time and explain it from the pulpits and in church bulletins.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “Yes, and I think this is very important.” The Bishops of England and Wales did it. More national episcopal conferences should follow suit. All it is doing is echoing Canon Law.

  31. michelelyl says:

    1. FYI- I had the most amazingly delicious whipped lard on a lightly toasted baguette as part of a charcuterie plate at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, MD. It was creamy,buttery, slightly salty and meaty-licious. I could have eaten a bowl full for my dinner!

    2. I thought it was already obligatory for all Catholics to either abstain from meat or do another form of penance on all Fridays of the year. Would this be a *new* requirement?

  32. dahveed says:

    Father, I voted “Tes, I think this is really important.” I think that Dismas expressed it better than I likely could. In my family, we’ve been practicing this. We probably tend cook from scratch more than many because two of my kids and I are celiacs, so most of the time, Friday night dinner is fairly simple. The kids expect it, and know why we do this. And really, it is such a small sacrifice. How could we not do it?

  33. rodin says:

    “Yes, I think this is really important.”–I have never stopped observing the meatless Friday rule and have finally learned to enjoy some fish. It seems very important to do penance especially since Our Lady of Fatima has indicated it is necessary. While eating fish can sometimes be a nuisance mostly I enjoy it so I wonder if it counts as penance. Now, if we were required to eat liver and onions THAT would be penance!

  34. priests wife says:

    This is probably why the stricter fasting laws of the East exclude oils from consumption- for my part, cooking veggies in bacon fat would render my fast sacrifice-less, so I personally abstain from all kinds of meat wednesdays and fridays

    I suppose allowing the fat on fast days would be because there is no blood

  35. Pingback: Go to the polls… at Father Z’s blog: Meatless Fridays at Steak! | Holy Souls Hermitage

  36. Jbuntin says:

    I try to follow meatless fridays, but because I wasn’t taught this in RCIA, I do slip up on more occasions than I like to admit. I don’t want to sound like my RCIA experience was a bad one because it wasn’t. We talked about meetless fridays, and how it wasn’t required anymore. I’m sure they even said that some other form of penance should be done, but I don’t remember it.
    I find that not being a cradle Catholic, some of the traditions are hard to make habitual for me. I believe they are worthy of effort, it’s just not second nature to me yet.
    I did vote ” Yes it’s important”. It’s one more thing to do to keep God up front and personal in my life.

  37. kiwitrad says:

    I have been having meatless Fridays for several years now. But I see it as asacrifice – a love offering to the Lord – so I just have a light meal. I know in the ‘old’ days people used to have fish and chips or an elaborate vegetarian meal but to me that’s just getting round the rules and losing any idea of sacrifice. And the idea of having fish cooked in meat oil seems to me to be just the usual Catholic quibble of ‘how little can I get away with?’ Make your sacrifice with a generous heart. God is so generous to us!

  38. APX says:

    I find that not being a cradle Catholic, some of the traditions are hard to make habitual for me.

    I find that being a cradle Catholic, a lot of the traditions were never passed down to me.

  39. Absolutely bring back meatless Fridays. I don’t know what ever gave us the idea, in the immediate aftermath of two worldwide fratricidal slaughters, that we had somehow evolved beyond the need for penance. It was a dumb idea ever to get rid of Friday abstinence, especially in view of the fact that nothing else was brought in to substitute for it. It would be nice if we all did penance voluntarily for the love of God, but the reality is that if we are not required to do penance, we won’t. Oftentimes, the love of God needs to be watered from the well of obedience.

  40. kiwitrad says: I have been having meatless Fridays for several years now. But I see it as asacrifice – a love offering to the Lord – so I just have a light meal. I know in the ‘old’ days people used to have fish and chips or an elaborate vegetarian meal but to me that’s just getting round the rules and losing any idea of sacrifice. And the idea of having fish cooked in meat oil seems to me to be just the usual Catholic quibble of ‘how little can I get away with?’ Make your sacrifice with a generous heart. God is so generous to us!

    As a lay Dominican, I too observe meatless Fridays, but I have to disagree with the spirit of this. Let us not be quick to judge people’s motives based on their meatless Friday menus. The sacrifice of not eating meat on Fridays is not merely the substitution of poorer fare for richer: it is also a sacrifice of convenience. It is a sacrifice not to be able to run down to the corner hot dog stand for lunch on a busy work day, or to be able to heat up some leftover chicken for dinner, or to slap up a quick baloney sandwich. This may not sound like much, but it is a mortification, and it is better than no mortification at all. Not all of us are called to observe hair-raising austerities.

  41. Titus says:

    I don’t care. (2%, 23 Votes)
    No, this would be a really bad idea. (3%, 18 Votes)

    It looks like the poll software is using some fuzzy math.

    [I see this right now:

    I don’t care. (3%, 44 Votes)
    No, this would be a really bad idea. (1%, 28 Votes)]

    And the squabble about “elaborate vegetarian meals” is merely reductio ad absurdam: it’s like saying, “what if I really like my hairshirt?” The penance is not eating meat. The Church tells us not eating meat is penitential. Finis.

  42. Veronica says:

    Our pastor encourages meatless Fridays every Friday of the year, not only during Lent.

  43. Centristian says:

    I voted “I don’t care” and I’ll elaborate on that: I voted “I don’t care” because I was feeling particularly honest at the time and the plain fact of the matter is…I don’t care. I don’t view seafood (lobster, shrimp, scallops, crab, calamari, salmon steaks, &c) or other meatless dishes as being penitential in any way so if I have to abstain from eating a baloney sandwich on Friday, fine, Oysters Rockefeller it is.

    It would be more interesting to me if the bishops decided that we had to abstain from alcohol on Friday, or from tobacco, or from television…or from the internet. But meat? Couldn’t care less.

  44. NoTambourines says:

    The wording from my grandpa’s prayer book and missal (Archdiocese of Baltimore) from 1907 uses this wording:

    “A day of abstinence is that on which we are not allowed to eat flesh meat.” I like that wording. That pretty well sums it up.

    I think it’s important to remember that our ancestors didn’t have the access to supermarkets and the range of products we do. The allowance of lard, tallow, eggs, and so forth also means people would feel less of a need to buy extra stuff to adapt to the requirements of abstaining, ironically using more to use less.

    In that same spirit, I try to make sure my lenten Friday meals don’t cost more than I would usually spend, and wherever possible, that they cost less (I’ve given up fast food, restaurants, and takeout as part of Lent for several years now.). To that end, Catholic Relief Services provides this awesome list:


  45. everett says:

    My wife and I have begun meatless Fridays just this past year. While it has been challenging at times, it has also been rewarding in that it forces us to think about what we’re eating, and helps us to remember that it is a day of Penance.

  46. JKnott says:

    I voted Yes, very important, for the same reasons a Dismas and also:
    Saint John of the Cross Rules for Detachment
    These are the golden rules proposed by St. John of the Cross for total detachment: The soul must always be inclined ‘not to the easiest thing, but to the hardest; not to the tastiest, but to the most insipid; not to the things that give the greatest pleasure, but to those that give the least; not to the restful things, but to the painful ones; not to consolation, but to desolation; not to more, but to less; not to the highest and dearest, but to the lowest and most despised; not to the desire for something, but to having no desires.’ In this way, we shall gradually become accustomed to subduing this inordinate desire for pleasure, which is at the base of all attachments. It is like going against a current; hence it is a hard tiring task which can be accomplished only by strength of will. We must oppose the inclinations of nature and make ourselves do what is repugnant to nature. This is, however, a sweet task for a soul in love with God; it knows that everything it refuses to self is given to God and that, when it has reached the point of renouncing self in everything – of selling everything – God Himself will give it the precious pearl of divine union.
    Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C. D.

  47. Cathy says:

    I think, in our country, it would be appropriate to have the Wednesday fast as well, as penance for the Land O’ Lakes conference, the open public Catholic dissent against Humanae Vitae, and the Hyannisport meeting.

  48. jflare says:

    I voted, “Yes, I guess so.” I think the idea of meatless Fridays quite good.
    I do not, however, relish making numerous veggie pizzas on Friday.
    I can hope that people will order more cheese pizzas, but I can’t count on that.
    If the bishops make this move, I will hope that our corporate marketing folks recognize a marketing opportunity and press with something easy that makes sense.
    I don’t care much for trying to profit from what’s intended as a penance of sorts, but I find I must pay the bills too.

  49. kellym says:

    Being married to a non-Catholic, we found it easier to keep meatless Fridays all year round for the sake of sanity. My husband can never remember when Lent falls, ( he gets Memorial and Labor Days mixed up) so we just decided that keeping meatless throughout the year was easier. It’s been a boon to our diet and it’s helped me in more spiritual ways too.

  50. letchitsa1 says:

    I voted No, I hesitate on such a move because I feel it is much more important that the bishops bring back the teaching of the importance of the sacrifice. I would much rather see them say that Fridays are to be a day of penance and sacrifice and why and give examples of what might constitute an appropriate sacrifice than to just say that Fridays are again meatless because they are days of sacrifice. For example, the tech-loving teen might find it more of a sacrifice to give up Facebook, texting or computer/video games than to give up a hamburger. The weekend party person might find it more sacrificial to cut their party time in half – partying only on Saturdays instead of both Fridays and Saturdays. For the person who eats out a lot – it might be more of a sacrifice to eat at home or pack a lunch. And the list could easily go on.

    I honestly believe the issue with the Friday sacrifice falling widely into disuse isn’t so much that meat was allowed again as it was that at the same time they opted to lift that restriction, they also went a step further and stopped teaching about the importance of the sacrifice, although I’m not entirely convinced that lesson was taught much even when meatless Fridays were in effect. I wasn’t a Catholic then – but I knew several Catholics, and what I remember witnessing was much more an attitude of legalism than of sacrifice. Now – it may be they just didn’t communicate that well, but when one says flat out they are doing something because the Church says they have to, as opposed to doing something because they believe it is important to make such a sacrifice – the message is clear enough to me, regardless of whether that is the message they are truly intending to send.

  51. jesusthroughmary says:

    letchitsa1 –
    You’re conflating a legal requirement with pastoral catechesis. The Church always has taught, does currently teach, and always will teach the “importance” of personal sacrifice in the life of the Christian, as it also teaches the “importance” of spending time in prayer, worshipping God, and receiving the sacraments. The fruits of the last-century have shown human nature is such that when Church law does not impose a requirement to do something that is “important”, then the Church’s teaching is seen as empty and nobody follows it. It’s “important” that people go to Mass on Sunday, so we oblige people to do it. But on the other hand, it’s also “important” that we give due reverence to tbe Blessed Sacrament, but the abandonment of concrete requirements to do so during Mass has rendered that “importance” impotent.

    It’s important that people do penance regularly, so for centuries we obliged them to abstain from meat on Fridays. Just reiterating the “importance” of something without concrete actions to back up the words will fall on deaf ears. Re-establishing obligatory meatless Fridays, the ancient and traditional BASIC penance, will be the best way to get people listening so that the teaching behind it can once again be heard.

  52. aspiringpoet says:

    Some of these comments are hilarious. Gross Fish Sandwich Fridays and aquatic rabbits? What else?

    I think it would be good to have obligatory meatlessness on Fridays. One benefit that I think no one has mentioned is the witness it may give to non-Catholics (or Catholics who are not practicing). In such circumstances, eg. when one goes to dinner at someone else’s house on a Friday, it would help to have an actual obligation, since otherwise one may feel compelled to eat meat out of charity to avoid inconvenience to the host. And just to point out, there is no rule that we cannot do additional Friday penance (such as giving up music, Facebook, Youtube) if we would like to go beyond the requirements.

  53. NoTambourines says:


    Well, there have been marketing attempts, some better than others, like the Hula Burger: http://money.howstuffworks.com/5-failed-mcdonalds-menu-items1.htm

  54. RichardT says:

    Chips (french fries to Yanks) taste much better when cooked in beef fat. But I would be surprised if many restaurants or take-aways used it; it is not only more expensive but also more troublesome than vegetable oil.

    Apparently after McDonalds switched from beef fat to vegetable fat in 1990, they flavoured their vegetable fat with beef extract. Later veggies and Hindus complained. I’m not sure if the response to the complaints was to change the fat or the labelling.

  55. RichardT says:

    But does anyone know of a lard-based condiment?

    Trying to search the web for one, I found Albert Sauce, which is based on meat stock and horseradish, which I shall try to make. And of course there’s Bovril, also from beef. But I can’t find any condiment with lard.

  56. Lili of the fields says:

    Eating fish doesn’t seem like a penance in my views; so I vote “I don’t care”. I usually go vegetarian on Friday, but that too, doesn’t seem like a penance: I guess I do not give too much importance to food in my life: it is just for sustenance.

    The teachings about doing personal penance on Fridays all year round are very very important but the means of penance should be left to the person and/or the priest/confessor/director of conscience.

  57. Kathy C says:

    The goal of removing the Friday fast from meat was to get people to involve themselves in the sacrifice on a more personal level. We know as an absolute fact that a Friday sacrifice of any kind is now rare, so apparently most of us aren’t really interested in doing that. Re-instituting the fast from meat on Fridays would help us lazy human beings.

  58. acardnal says:

    One doesn’t have to eat fish necessarily. When I was a child we enjoyed pasta and marinara sauce, grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup or cheese pizzas. Last but not least, there is the traditional bread and water; I note no one has mentioned that one. It combines abstinence and fasting.

  59. AnAmericanMother says:

    I voted to make it obligatory.

    1. Obviously making it optional hasn’t worked. Nobody (or hardly anybody) is making an alternative sacrifice. Mostly due to poor catechesis — but really that’s no excuse. The change just gave the lazy and the CINO an excuse to forget the whole thing.

    2. It’s so hard to remember when nobody at all is keeping Fridays — including the Knights and the choir. I’m sort of forgetful, so if it were obligatory somebody probably would say, “remember! It’s Friday!” and that would help. Before I make that ham sammich.

    P.S. – there’s lard and there’s lard. The really good stuff (the ‘leaf lard’ that comes from around the kidneys of a young animal) is expensive but you can eat it on a biscuit. I prefer to put it in the biscuits and the pie crust. Nothing makes a flaky, tender, moist biscuit or piecrust like good leaf lard (this is of course why the Marie Callendar and Pillsbury piecrusts are better than the ones you make at home with Crisco. They use lard. Which is why I don’t make them any more.)

  60. AnAmericanMother says:

    That didn’t sound like it made sense, but my point was that I won’t buy a two-pound package of rendered leaf lard just to use about 1/2 cup in a piecrust. It DOES go bad – has to be refrigerated. I haven’t tried to freeze it and don’t know if I can (that would be nice though).

    Don’t buy the processed stuff (Armour) because it tastes nasty.

  61. letchitsa1 says:

    Jesusthroughmary: You missed my point.

    AnAmericanMother: Lard can be frozen. My mother – who uses it far more often than I do – freezes it fairly regularly without any ill effect to the lard.

  62. RichardT says:

    AnAmericanMother said: “Nothing makes a flaky, tender, moist biscuit or piecrust like good leaf lard”

    We used half lard and half goose fat for the pastry for mince pies this Christmas, and it was superb – the best pastry ever.

  63. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thanks! Next time I am baking pies, I’ll get some and freeze the leftovers. Yum.
    I’m tellin’ you . . . . :-D

  64. Titus says:

    I don’t care. (2%, 23 Votes)
    No, this would be a really bad idea. (3%, 18 Votes)

    It looks like the poll software is using some fuzzy math.

    [I see this right now:

    I don’t care. (3%, 44 Votes)
    No, this would be a really bad idea. (1%, 28 Votes)]

    How very strange. Maybe it had something to do with rounding of very small percentages.

  65. Blue Henn says:

    I voted Yes, Very Important; but it would definitely have to be propagated properly – there is nothing which seems quite so pointless as following a tradition with no clue as to why, other than it has always been done this way. Actions are nearly meaningless if there is no understanding of the why behind them. Also, it would be good to have a sacrifice in which all of the Church is united.

  66. jesusthroughmary says:

    letchitsa –

    What is your point, then? You said, “I feel it is much more important that the bishops bring back the teaching of the importance of the sacrifice.” I am assuming that you mean personal sacrifice made in the daily lives of individual Christians as a means of sanctification. Given that that teaching (A) does not need to be “brought back” because it has been the constant teaching of the Church, (B) is not mutually exclusive with meatless Fridays, and (C) is too vague to be effectively communicated without concrete examples, I don’t see how obligatory meatless Fridays does anything but help toward achieving your suggested goal. Have you read the explanatory letter that the bishops of England and Wales issued upon their re-institution of the rule? It’s a marvelous little piece of catechetical instruction and pastoral encouragement.

  67. jesusthroughmary says:

    For those who don’t care because they are vegetarians, don’t see seafood as a sacrifice, etc.:

    Say instead that you were a weekly penitent and a daily communicant. Would you not still embrace a rule that required monthly confession and communion because of its benefit to the Church as a whole, even if it had no practical effect on you?

  68. cwalshb says:

    So meat doesn’t really matter for me, going without it is not a big deal. However, I think that getting rid of meat abstinence and just saying penance is required on Fridays is ineffective as no one ever told me growing up about penance on Fridays and I think abstinence during Lent even seemed arbitrary. Reintroducing the meat penance makes it easy to “schedule” a little Friday penance BUT I think that the value of penance needs to be taught…i.e. that sacrifice is essential and that there are merits for making sacrifices for specific intentions…I think this is commonly ignored in a well-meaning culture that de-emphasizes the importance of prayer and private sacrifices compared to social justice activities in faraway lands (there’s a place for that, too, but it’s not the only thing we’re called to do or even necessarily the best)…

  69. jflare says:

    “Well, there have been marketing attempts, some better than others, like the Hula Burger: http://money.howstuffworks.com/5-failed-mcdonalds-menu-items1.htm

    Yich! No wonder it didn’t sell! I’m no big fan of sea-food myself, but I can see eating filet-of-fish WELL before I can see eating pineapple on a burger bun.
    I’ve thought this quite strange for a few years: When I worked for my pizza chain as a driver in the 90’s, I remember making a veggie pizza with green peppers, onions, black olives, and that sort of thing. Our more current veggie, however, has spinach, feta cheese, red peppers, and so forth. Perhaps I have different taste, but MAKING this thing seems like something of a penance to me…!

    Something like mushroom and black olive or just plain cheese would make more sense to me.

  70. mamajen says:

    So meat-based broths or stocks are NOT allowed during Lent? I researched this in the past because I was concerned, and came away understanding that broths were okay. I’ve used chicken broth to make chowder during Lent. Soups are a mainstay during Lent, and although I could substitute vegetable broth if making the food myself, I often used canned soups or eat in a restaurant. A lot of churches have soup and bread dinners, too, and I wonder how many of those soups are truly vegetarian.

    I greatly enjoy fish and seafood and am perfectly content with many vegetarian dishes, so I agree with others who say that meatless Fridays aren’t a huge sacrifice. In fact, so many people use Fridays of Lent to indulge in fish fries or Filet-o-Fish sandwiches when they wouldn’t otherwise do so. Now if we were all forced to consume my mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole, then we’d be talking.

  71. nanetteclaret says:

    I voted that it is very important to bring this back. I know that we can do some sort of penance instead, but it is just so much easier to do “Fish on Friday.” Not having grown up Catholic, I don’t think I would ever be able to convince myself that some devotion or act of charity was penetential enough; it’s less mentally stressful to just not eat meat. Meatless Fridays also help me to live out my Catholic faith in my daily life. It’s one small way that I can witness to my Protestant family members that I am taking my Catholic faith seriously: when they ask why we eat fish on Friday, I explain that it is because Jesus died for our sins on Friday and it reminds us of that fact. (I don’t mention the penetential aspect because they don’t understand/agree with the concept of penance.) When growing up Presbyterian, the Crucifixion was mentioned only on Good Friday (i.e., only once a year), so it is a stark contrast that we remember *every* Friday. Of course as Catholics, we remember all the time, but that is not the public witness that eating fish on Friday is. Our world needs to be reminded that Christ did die on the Cross for our sins. Perhaps just a reminder of that fact might provoke serious thinking about His sacrifice and switching over to the Narrow Path.

    EWTN has a wonderful commercial about two guys from work ordering lunch and one orders the fish “because it’s Friday.” The other guy says he “didn’t think we had to do that anymore,” which gives the first guy a chance to explain that it’s either no meat or some other sort of penance on Friday, but that one or the other is still obligatory. Then the commercial ends with: “It’s our Catholic faith – let’s live it!” That pretty much sums it up for me.

    Fr. Z – FYI, I tried to vote on the sidebar and it wouldn’t let me. The message was “please select a valid option.” The poll within this post did work and I was able to vote.

  72. RosaMystica says:

    I voted Yes, very important.

    I’m not a cradle Catholic, so this was not easy for me to remember to implement, but we (my family) abstain from meat on all Fridays. I think it’s a good idea because it reminds us of Christ’s death on Friday, and the need for penance (even when certain non-meat foods aren’t penitential). It’s also a good idea because it would encourage Catholic cultural unity.

  73. JuliB says:

    In reply to those who think that eating fish on Fridays isn’t a sacrifice, I feel the same way once in awhile. However, more often than not, I find I have a taste for meat.

    I’m reminded of Naamin, Elisha and the Jordan River. Naamin didn’t think that merely a couple of dips (7) in the river was appropriate for him for curing his leprosy. So let’s just do as we’re told and if you don’t consider it that much a sacrifice, you can always do more. It could be that obedience is worth more than the penitential nature of the act in a given individual’s case.

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