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19 January 2007


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It was 11 years after I went through RCIA that I found out that Friday penitence hadn't simply been lifted outside Lent. Took even longer before I really internalized it. The lack of clear teaching really made it hard for me to believe it wasn't optional.

Anyway, *I* personally think it's easier to skip meat than to do other stuff, so that's what I do, except if it will inconvenience or offend someone else (e.g. if I'm a guest and can't surreptitiously pick the meat out of the food). I admit that on those occasions I intend to follow up by substituting a rosary or something like that, but I often forget. Bleah. (Now that we don't HAVE to abstain from meat, doesn't it feel rude to do so if it inconveniences anyone in the slightest, even if that's the penance you choose?)

My husband doesn't take care to observe Friday meat-abstinence, and I haven't asked him if he substitutes anything for it. I guess I'll have to when the kids get a bit older, because it'll be easier if it's simply a family discipline. My children are all under 7 and I haven't discussed the issue with them yet. But I make certain never to serve meat on Fridays.


We generally do meatless Fridays, although fish doesn't work as a substitute because when we have fish it's a treat :) I agree about it being easier (and less work for me to be creative/proactive in finding an alternative). So I try to have a simple bean or cheese based meal. And I do eat whatever I'm served when at another's house for dinner. Would this be one of the "charity before worship" cases, where it's better to receive hospitality graciously than to follow one's penance? Even back when we "HAD" to abstain, or on Lenten Fridays? Perhaps prudence might suggest not going out on those Fridays.... Also, these last years as a two-student family, some weeks we feel like our special penance has been going on all week, so we eat meat just to keep our strength up.... But my menu has a meatless dinner every Friday.

I actually first started thinking about it when visiting a non-Catholic Great-Aunt. It was Friday, and she asked me if I wasn't allowed to eat meat. I was surprised--it wasn't Lent!--but found out she knew more about it than I did :)



"[is it] better to receive hospitality graciously than to follow one's penance?"

My understanding is that the requirement to abstain from meat on Fridays has always included an exemption for guests who, by doing so, would give "great" offense. Presumably mild offense was part and parcel of the act of sacrifice. You would have to identify yourself as a believing Catholic, and if you ask me it would be pretty humbling. Bring your own food, or snack beforehand, or admit to the hostess in advance that you won't be eating meat (as someone with an allergy ought to do). What do kosher-keeping Jews do, after all, when they visit someone?

Rich Leonardi

To my parish RCIA director's credit, the Friday abstinence rule was one of the handful of traditional disciplines mentioned when I participated in the program as a catechist.

After fiddling around with pentiential acts like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, we decided last summer to observe the requirement by defaulting back to abstinence. And we do it as a family.


Jimmy Akin says that we aren't bound to Friday abstinence any more.



Wow, Kelly, I sure didn't read the bishops' document that way. Jimmy's smarter than I am in this field though...


Yeah, I wasn't sure what to think about that myself.


Including the children, we all abstain from meat on Fridays.

Since it's only really hard when you're out, it seems a cop-out to go ahead and eat meat because you happen to be somewhere else, so we persist (except in extraordinary circumstances the likes of which we have yet to encounter).

I don't think much of the method whereby you pick your penance-a-la-carte on any given Friday. This does little to teach discipline or obedience and is too easily over- or under-done. There is something to be said for habitual penance even though it doesn't stimulate much in the way of feeeeeeeelings.

Did it take a while to find out about? Everything did.

Do I impose extra penance on myself? Yes. Sometimes I think about how the Bearing Blog still doesn't link to me. The suffering, you can appreciate, is intense.


Jimmy Akin is a cracker. Why else whould he wear that very dumb hat? Unattractive people in very dumb hats would do well not to post their pictures.

But of course there is an obligation to do penance on Friday. Jimmy says as much but then backtracks with the kind of muddled thinking one comes to expect on his blog.

The canons (1251 & 1253) say the bishops' conference CAN "determine more precisely" the method of penance, at their discretion. Jimmy admits they have not done so, but then concludes therefore that nothing at all is required.

It makes no sense until you remember the hat.

Rich Leonardi

"Jimmy Akin says that we aren't bound to Friday abstinence any more."

Not quite. We are no longer bound provided we substitute other penitential practices. Moreover, the norms state that the bishops "especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday . . . we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat."


John, how do you handle Friday abstinence when you are a guest at someone's house? Do you tell them in advance, bring your own stuff, or what?

(sorry 'bout the link -- fixing now)


Erin, don't you think it's a little bit of a leap to think that someone, having met me, would choose to make me their guest?

At any rate, isn't this whole question a mountain made of a mole hill?

How do I handle being a guest? I eat. Not meat. Then I compliment the veggies and the hostess' shoes and make it up to them with my wise counsel, charming good company, and witty repartee. How else?

Who are these people who get offended and why is everyone spending time with them?

The only people I've ever met who got offended were offended because they are generally hostile to religion, not specifically because I didn't eat their stinkin' meatloaf.

Would I bring along my own food? That seems like a lot of work.

Would I warn somebody in advance? Yeah, if they were going to some trouble to prepare a formal meal.

But people now are used to unique dietary needs. Everybody's allergic to wheat or peanut butter, or doesn't eat carbs or whatever.

But for religion? Most people are intrigued or just think you're weird for passing up good food. So lucky me, I get to be a sign of contradiction.

It's not a big deal.


Actually, John, I'm not thinking about the host/ess being offended as in angry. the question was more along the lines, what do you think the etiquette of the situation requires. Which you answered.

I think the fact that it's not obligatory (to skip meat on Fridays) makes those of us who choose to do so resemble "picky eaters," whether deserved or not. Since I've waffled over the years about whether to skip meat on Friday or not, I think the friends I've eaten with freqently must have given up by now trying to predict it.

Obviously the solution is to get more consistent...


Well if you want to be constant the first thing you might do is stop paying any heed to your national Bishops' Conference. They have yet to say anything necessary.


We usually go meatless on Fridays but are not rigid about it. During Easter Fridays I make a point of not going meatless, though, to emphasize the celebratory nature of the season.

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