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