Lenten Fridays: fish and meat

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So, today's a Friday in Lent, and on such days, "Catholics over 14 years of age are expected to abstain from eating meat."

Scenario A
I often stop into Concord Teacakes in the morning to pick up a sandwich or salad or soup for lunch at the office.  I had just picked a tuna salad sandwich from the chilled display case when one of the women in the kitchen came out to tell me that today they were offering meat loaf sandwiches.  She came out to tell me this because she knows it's my favorite sandwich at Teacakes.  I told her "thanks but no" since it was a Friday in Lent.  She instantly understood the difficulty as did other clerks and customers around me and thus began some chatter about meatless Lenten Friday in which I said, "Well, at least today this tuna salad represents a little "giving up" since I'd really love to have the meat loaf."

Scenario B
My brother and I were to have met for dinner this past week but an evening funeral in the parish he pastors meant we had to reschedule.  I suggested March 1 as an alternate date and he emailed back to remind me that I'd chosen a Friday and to ask how I felt about fish for dinner.  I said that was fine by me (as it was with him) and he suggested a seafood restaurant whose menu includes some sushi.  That's where we're going and I'm looking forward to it!  But what about this from an earlier post?

Image: MonterreyGourmet

To Keep A True Lent

Is this a fast, 
to keep the larder lean
and clean from fat of veal and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish of flesh, 
yet still to fill 
the platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour, or ragged to go,
or show a downcast look
and sour?

No: 'tis a fast
to dole thy sheaf of wheat and meat
unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife, 
from old debate and hate;
to circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent; 
to starve thy sin, not bin;
and that's to keep thy Lent.
-Robert Herrick

Will I be giving up a beef dish to fill the platter high with fish?
What will be the significance in that?

At least at Teacakes this morning, my choice was the small loss of something I'd have rather had - and led to some conversation about Lent and sacrifice.  But when two priests sit down to dinner in a good restaurant on a Friday night in Lent - what of that?  Well, perhaps we'll redeem the menu by fasting from the language of ecclesial strife and old debate and the unkind words that sometimes pass a pastor's lips when he's out with his confreres.

So: tuna, meat loaf, a funeral and some sushi...  There's nothing in our lives that might not draw us deeper into Lent and its spirit, leading us to look within to find this holy season's grace and meaning...


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  1. A couple of days ago St. A's posted on Facebook about the lobster mac 'n cheese they offered last Friday, and while others enthused in their comments, my immediate reaction — which I kept to myself was similar to yours about sushi and the platter piled high with fish.*

    When I was at Georgetown 50 years ago, the lenten fare in the caf was especially tasty so the students would not go off campus to get hamburgers. I wished we could get some of it year round. So I made meals penitential by having beets or spinach as my vegetable.

    Perhaps with young adults the approach needs to be different than the one for us old timers. With them, what is important may well be to introduce them to the practice of abstaining from meat and getting them used to it, without being overly concerned about what replaces it.

    *OTOH I've never had lobster mac 'n cheese and I wonder if it might not really be a waste of good lobster. Perhaps eating it could be a penance if one keeps in mind that it could have been part of a baked stuffed lobster or a lobster roll or eaten boiled with melted butter, and one says over and over, "What a waste. What a waste. What a waste."

  2. In the event the menu at the restaurant where you and your brother will meet on Friday has alligator on it, it is OK to eat it. Because of an inquiry by one of the faithful to the bishop of New Orleans, the bishop checked it out with the USCCB. The answer was that alligator fits in the category of fish. It spends most of its time in the water and is cold blooded.

    Aren't you happy to receive this bit of information courtesy of The Pilot?!



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