Meatless Fridays

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An article in the Wall Street Journal by Francis Rocca today discusses the potential return of meatless Fridays in Great Britain.

Every year during the 40 days of Lent, millions of Catholics honor Jesus’s crucifixion by foregoing meat in their Friday meals. But starting this September, if the bishops of England and Wales have their way, Catholics there will abstain from meat every Friday, year-round. This change marks the revival of a practice that the church abandoned a half-century ago—and it’s the latest of several in recent years.

Catholic tradition calls for acts of penance every Friday, the day of Jesus’s death, but observance of that tradition has changed dramatically since the modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Bishops in most countries eliminated abstinence from meat or limited it to Lent alone, and each Catholic became free to choose his own form of Friday penance: skipping television, perhaps, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This effectively meant the disappearance of Friday penance altogether. In my 11 years of Catholic schooling, I don’t recall hearing it mentioned once.

That’s why the announcement by the bishops of England and Wales is so significant. To anyone with a taste for sushi or smoked salmon, missing hamburger once a week might present little inconvenience. But then, lightly beating one’s breast, as Catholics do in one version of the Penitential rite during Mass, isn’t a serious form of corporal mortification either. Catholicism is a fundamentally symbolic religion whose teachings are typically embodied in conventional signs and gestures.

That last sentence is particularly intriguing.  One might quibble with Catholicism being described as a “fundamentally symbolic religion,” but there’s no doubt as to the importance of the little things that make up our identity as Catholics.  This paragraph further along in the article explains why this is all so important.

Sociologists such as Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, who study the behavior of “religious economies,” have observed that churches tend to lose vigor when they relax demands on adherents, especially those tenets and practices that cut against the grain of wider society. In economic terms, lowering the “costs” of membership in this way ends up diminishing its benefits, among other ways by loosening the bonds of community.

This is what bothers me with the Novus Ordo.  The first time I ever attended a non-Catholic Christian service (In this case Presbyterian) it felt hardly distinguishable from a Catholic Mass, although the small cups of grape juice being passed around at Communion did seem odd to me.  That’s because I had only ever attended a Novus Ordo Mass.  One of the many great things about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is how markedly different it is from other Christian worship services.  Sure the essential elements bear strong resemblances to one another, but no one would ever walk into the middle of an traditional Latin Mass and think they were in a Lutheran church.

At any rate, I applaud the Bishops for attempting to restore this valuable tradition.  For a few years I’ve made a concerted effort to go meatless on Fridays year-round, though I confess to being not quite 100% successful in this endeavor.  It is certainly something worth pursuing.

H/t: Rich Leonardi.

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  1. I’m a new convert. I was just confirmed on Divine Mercy Sunday, but I’ve been attending Mass regularly at my local parish since September of last year. I’ve been practicing meatless Fridays since I was formally welcomed during that rite at the beginning of Advent and I really do love it. Even though it’s something rather small, having to stop and think about what I’m going to eat so that I omit meat is a reminder of my faith. It helps me prepare for Reconiliation on Saturdays and for Mass on Sundays.

    As for the NO Mass, I hope this doesn’t open up a can of worms but I actually like it. I realize that for people who grew up in the EF it’s probably a bit of a shock. But for someone like me, coming from a very long and ingrained line of Protestantism (my grandparents are still convinced that the Pope is probably the AntiChrist,which annoys me to no end) it was quite the relief coming to Mass and seeing something not totally alien to what I was used to. I know that’s a minus for a lot of traditionalists. The thing is that even though I was feeling a very strong pull from Catholic doctrine and apologetics, it took me two solid years of personal study to get up the nerve to actually set foot in a Catholic church. With criends and family telling me that I was risking my immortal soul by converting, I was terrified of making a mistake. So when I got there and was able to participate and to understand what was going on with relatively little effort, I was extremely relieved.

    The NO helped me make the jump between Protestantism and Catholicism. Now, I’m confirmed and have had both of my kids baptized into the Church. I’m taking a home-Ed course on Latin and am hoping I’ll be able to start wading into the EF Mass before too long. But given where I was before and how far I’ve come, I really don’t like to see folks totally discount the NO Mass, and I do tend to see TONS of that within the conservative Catholic blogosphere (this particular piece was very respectful in it’s comment, so I don’t mean you guys).

  2. I have been making an effort to abstain from meat on Fridays too, for the last couple years.

    One of the main problems I see with suppressing meatless Fridays, was that it has not been adequately made known to people that they’re STILL SUPPOSED TO DO PENANCE on Fridays. It doesn’t have to be meat-related anymore, but it needs to be something.

    Rather than dream up my own penance, I do the meat thing. It’s a great way to practice a little self-denial on a regular basis. Keeps me in practice, so next time Lent comes around I’m not caught completely flatfooted.

  3. Mandy:

    The last thing I intend to do is judge you for your opinion about the new mass. I strongly prefer the EF, but don’t hate the OF. When I re-verted to the Church in my mid-20s (about 20 years ago), I had no clear memory of the EF, and basically cut my teeth on the OF. It didn’t drive me out of the Church, so it can’t be all bad, right? (That’s a joke, of course no valid mass can be “bad” per se.)

    But at the same time, while ignorant of Catholic liturgy, I did have some expectations of what it would be like. I expected a strong sense of mystery and mysticism, reverence, and ritual strictly observed. I was ready to revel in those things. But as it turned out, they were not to be found all that often. When they were, I basked in them. Usually they weren’t.

    I’m glad that the OF was a help to you, sort of a meeting-halfway point between Protestant worship and traditional Catholic worship (if I understand you correctly). But what if we look at this from another angle?

    Should we also have mass be a meeting-halfway point between atheistic secularism and traditional Catholic worship? Use profane musical and architectural styles, so that worldly people will feel somewhat at home, until they’re ready to go “all the way”?

    It seems to me that the scriptures paint a clear dichotomy between the world and the Church. Shouldn’t the Church’s most sacred act of worship reflect that? Shouldn’t it feel like entering a completely different realm?

    Now I know that the Church has a history of adapting worldly or pagan traditions to sacred uses. But this, I believe, was usually done in the context of a mission territory, while trying to win over entire populations to Christianity. In Europe and the U.S., Catholicism is a long-established faith of a large proportion of the populace, so I’m not sure that should apply here. Moving into a never-before-Christian territory and adapting its established customs to Christian use is one thing. But moving into an established Catholic population and changing their long-established customs to better suit the non-Catholic world around them, seems to be moving in the wrong direction.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it, and I hope you can understand my point of view.

  4. Agellius,

    I understand where you’re coming from. And maybe it’s different in other NO parishes, but the one I attend is still very traditional and there is quite a bit of ritual and mystery in the Mass, for me anyway. I would also point out that over half of all people in the US identify as some type of Protestant. Only about a quarter identify as Catholic. Those stats are as of 2008. So I would respectfully disagree that adapting and bringing in traditions from outside the church is necessarily a bad thing. Obviously I don’t want to make our Masses into Protestant services, or else I’d have just stayed at Protestant. But I think, in the US anyway, having something that’s not completely alien is a good thing.

    My experience with the NO is that the focus is on the Eucharist, where it should be. That by itself is radically different than a Protestant service. Protestant churches pretty exclusively make it or break it by the preacher and his sermon. If the preaching isn’t what the people of that congregation want to hear, they either can him, go to a different church, or split into a new congregation. In the Church, the homily could stink on ice, but you’ve still got Jesus there in the Eucharist, so you stay.

    There are a lot of other differences I could name as well. But my point is that the Catholic Mass that I attend each week, which is NO, is the most reverent and worshipful place I’ve ever been in my life. I was raised in church and can honestly say that I’ve never “experienced” the Lord the way I have in the Church. I never had any sense of awe or mystery until I came to the Church. So I think that people who dismiss the NO because it’s in the vernacular or the priest is facing the “wrong” way or the music isn’t Gregorian chant (not implying you did that here, just speaking to a lot of the sentiment I’ve seen online) are doing it a disservice.

  5. I’d also like to say that given the demographics in the US and the fact that our culture is getting more and more secular by the day, that I think we really are in missionary territory here. I don’t think that came across as clearly as I wanted it to in my earlier post.

  6. Those who bash the NO while still acknowledging its validity replace salvation with satisfying a nostalgia as the highest goal.

    As for meatless Fridays, it ironically has the potential to court far-left tree-hugging vegans. The bishops can leverage the sustainable eating craze.

  7. “Those who bash the NO while still acknowledging its validity replace salvation with satisfying a nostalgia as the highest goal.”

    Rubbish. They merely recognize that the new Mass is celebrated across this great land often with all the beauty and grace of a tupperware party in a gymnasium. The sacrifice of the Mass of course is the all important factor, but where once God’s greatest gift to man was surrounded with beauty, solemnity and awe, we now have plainess verging on tacky, banality and boredom.

  8. Mandy:

    I’m glad we can disagree charitably. I can certainly understand that the OF would appear quite reverent and mysterious compared with Protestant worship services. I just think it pales in comparison with the EF.

    I get your point about the U.S. being mission territory in a sense. But in a way, this begs the question. In my view, the concessions made to the surrounding culture — concessions that moved the existing established Church *away* from its own identity and towards the identity of the surrounding culture in various ways, including in its manner of worship — have actually *contributed* to making the U.S. even more of a mission territory. Meaning, of course, that mass attendance dropped, vocations to the priesthood and religious life plummeted, and dissent skyrocketed.

    I’m not blaming all those problems on the changes to the mass itself, but I contend that the mass changes were part-and-parcel of the same changes in attitude toward the Faith which led to the rest. I contend that had the Church held firm to her own identity amid the surrounding cultural tumult, many fewer Catholics might have fallen away, and indeed many who felt adrift in society might have turned to the Church as an anchor of sanity.

    That being said, certainly God can bring good out of evil. As undesirable as I think the changes to the mass were, to some people they do seem to have had some benefit (note that I’m referring to the *changes* to the mass, not the mass itself, which of course is always beneficial).

  9. Agellius,

    From what I’ve learned about some of the craziness that immediately followed VII, I can understand why some people are so vehemently against the OF. And I think there’s a sort-of nostalgia for the “good old days” amongst the more hardcore EF people I’ve come across that is fed by the perception that the OF is still the hippy masses of the past. So again, I understand the wariness. And I’m certainly not anti-EF. Like I said, I’m interested in wading into the Latin and such. But I do think that the NO can be extremely reverent, mysterious and wonderfully Christ centered. It’s also very distinctly Catholic without being alien. Maybe my parish is the exception or something, although I have attended an OF mass at the Immaculate Conception in Jacksonville that was every bit as wonderful as the one at my home parish, albeit in a much older building so the style sort-of felt different, if that makes sense.

    My point is that I think the OF has a lot less to do with people leaving and a lack of vocations than the people themselves. Maybe it’s just anecdotal evidence, but my home parish is extremely full and growing. So is the parochial school run by our church. And that’s kind of surprising because the area in which I live has a very low population of young families. It’s mostly a retirement area. When I started coming to mass I was very surprised at how many younger people there were mixed in with the elderly folks and how many children were attending the religious Ed classes offered on Sunday mornings. That’s rare in my area, ever church I’ve attended was dying off, with the Catholic church being the only exception. I’ve literally been the only person with children at some congregations. But not at the local parish. So we’re obviously doing something right.

    Anyway, the gist of what I’m getting at is that if the OF is done right, it isn’t banal or boring at all. Maybe I just got lucky and walked into a parish that does it properly when most others don’t. I dunno. I can say for certain that if I’d walked into mass that first time and seen some of the stuff I’ve seen described as happening right after VII, I would have walked back out. But I don’t know how well I would have fared in an EF mass, either. I’d like to say I would have been fine, but I don’t really know that for certain. I read something the other day that the Pope is looking at coming to some kind of compromise form of the mass; basically a meshing of the best elements of the two. I would definitely be interested to see how that works out.

  10. I would also like to add that I’d be interested to see what the conversion stats were from the previous eras. From what I’ve read and from the older folks I’ve talked to, it seems like the days that a lot of people are nostalgic for were also very closed off to anyone outside of the existing Catholic community- a lot of which was made up of newer immigrants and their progeny. Considering that from our founding, the US has been a predominantly Protestant nation, I think that’s it’s been missionary territory since day 1.

    Even though you are a revert- so you’re a convert of sorts- you still have some kind of foundational Catholic identity. So I think your perspective is going to be a lot more of someone looking at it from the inside. I’m someone who was totally on the outside, looking for ways to get others like me in. And from that perspective, I honestly think that returning to a closed off mindset is not the way to go. Again, I’m not suggesting that we have to make every tiny thing more palatable to outsiders. Certainly not! But I think that making the mass accessible to anyone coming in off the street is a good thing. So just to make the distinction clear, I’m not suggesting we cater to the whims of outsiders, but that we should be looking for ways to connect with them and make the mass something they can more easily understand. Does that make sense?

    P.S. Sorry for the multiple postings and any errors in spelling, etc. I’m doing this on my iPad, and while it’s a wonderful device for many things, proofreading and editing in com boxes does not fall into the wonderful category. 🙂

  11. The problem with the common Mass (NO, OF) is that you never know what someone is talking about when they mention it. For that matter you never know what you are going to get when you walk into a different parish, or if you have a different priest at yours. It is very innovative and way too fluid. Sometimes you have the confiteor, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it is Eucharistic Prayer I, others it is II, III, or IV. Sometimes we pray the Hail Mary, which is beautiful, but probably misplaced and sometimes we pray through St. Michael after Mass and most of the times we don’t. This does not include all the unapproved shenanigans that go on when some priests encourage a social hour before Mass, or the sign of conviviality that continues through the Agnus Die, or the cacophony that occurs after Mass when you are merely trying to do a silly little thing like thank Jesus for His Sacrifice to save your soul.

    If you are blessed to hear the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated properly in its ordinary form that is wonderful. My diocese has excellent priests, yet sometimes It doesn’t seem like I am at the Last Supper, Calvary or the Wedding Feast of the Lamb – I have to work very hard to put myself there. Sometimes it is easier. When I go out of town, I cry. I have seen some really frightening things. I have priests seem offended because I want to receive the Lord Jesus on my knees – I mean while kneeling, I receive Him on my tongue.

    It gets confusing. The Novus Ordo can be beautiful when the priest loves the Sacrifice and fervently acts in persona Christi. Just look at the Mass celebrated on EWTN, it is quite beautiful and you always know what you are going to get.

    This is what is so wonderful about the Tridintine Mass, it is totally mystical, beautiful and awesome, every time and you know what you are going to experience. It places the priest in a the proper position, at Mass, far more important than any of us who assist, not because of who he is, but because of what he has been empowered to do. At most NO (OF) Masses, the priest is merely the dude with the cookie and the lame homily.

    What we need is a restored Mass and we have an opportunity for that with the corrected translation coming this Advent (boy is this going to be an interesting Advent/Christmas season). Bishops should ensure the translation is explained because it is not just that we will say different things, it is why we are saying them differently that matters. There is a HUGE difference between that which is unseen and that which is invisible. Will anyone notice? Why are people beating their breasts three times during the confiteor? Some so-called catholics are going to be so confused. I only wish the bishops will insist on proper rubrics. One can Hope. Are people still going to be raising their hands like they are at a Christian Rock concert when we pray the Pater Noster?

    At Mass we are supposed to go through an examen, repent, Christmas, the Law, the Prophets, the public ministry of Christ, the entrance into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension. The Mass is a walk through the life of Christ. How is that possible when I have backed my car into the space preparing for my exit, walked in during the first reading, hung out with a bunch of Protestants who call themselves Catholics, taken my cookie and headed for the parking lot before the priest exited the sanctuary (if you can even identify it because it looks like a stage and there is no altar rail)? It is hardly possible and then you find the short, stripped down weekday Mass easier to pray and start wondering why God commands you to go on Sundays. Something has to change. Perhaps the NO could be reserved for converts, like a boot camp, until they get up to speed, but as it is how many Catholics actually go to Mass, let alone pray it when they are physically there?

    Oh, angelluis, thanks for reminding everyone that although we may eat meat on Friday, we are not dispensed from an act of penance/mercy. The cool thing about meatless Fridays is that we are all doing the same thing together. I have usually practiced that as soon after I discovered that we still had to do some penance, lately I have had trouble with it due to some health concerns and my diet was altered, funny how sometimes absence can make the heart grow fonder because I do miss the discipline. We are a community of individuals and a properly celebrated Mass, the prayer and sacrifice of the Son to the Father, and meatless Fridays do keep us united as a community, rather than a social club that has some cool religious stuff we used to do.

    Sorry, for rambling, I am just wondering what Mass I’m walking into tomorrow and it is stressing me out.

  12. I’ve been trying to keep the meatless Friday penance for about 10 years now. I’m probably about 95% successful.

    If I eat meat on a Friday, it’s not usually because I just want some meat; it’s usually because I’m invited to a dinner where I’d feel like I were insulting the host(ess) by not eating what he’s prepared. Because of those situations, I’m glad that I have the option of substituting another penance.

    However, I find that most of the time I can avoid meat simply by explaining that I don’t eat meat on Fridays. This has led to some good conversations, and helped some Catholics to learn that we are all called to do some penance on Friday.

    I live in South Louisiana, and I don’t like seafood at all (not even boiled crawfish). Believe me, when I say that I don’t eat meat, and I don’t eat seafood, I get strange looks.

    I really like the idea that Catholics – heck, all Christians – perform a visible sign that shows visible unity in Christ. Giving up meat is a wonderful way of doing that.

  13. Nicholas,

    You bring up a great point. We should take reasonable measures to avoid situations that cause us to fail to keep out meatless Fridays; however, Fridays tend to have social evenings and that often involves food. We are called to penance and we are called to Charity, so I suppose if the host is providing meat it would be uncharitable to refuse. In some way that is a form of penance and if we cause discomfort to others in order to maintain our meat abstinence then aren’t we being legalistic and Pharisaical, which is a form of hubris?

    Does anyone know if we are required to keep meatless/penance Fridays during Eastertide? I know we are dispensed when a feast falls on a Friday, and I know we are exempt during the Easter Octave, but what about the rest of Easter through Pentecost?

  14. American Knight,

    Given the larger social context in which not even Catholics give up meat on Fridays, then I do think that it is uncharitable to refuse to eat meat when I’m a guest.

    One of my former pastors, Fr. Randy Moreau (a truly holy priest, btw), drilled into us that we are called to some form of penance on Fridays. I count myself blessed that during an imporant formative age of my life I had a good pastor.

    As for the Eastertide, I don’t have an answer.

  15. The calendar issued by the Melkite Eparchy indicates that meat may be eaten on the Fridays between Holy Pascha and the Feast of the Ascension, but at no other time of the year. It would be my assumption that the same applies in the Ukrainian and Roumanian Churches. Not sure about the Roman-rite…

  16. I’m not “vehemently against the OF”. And my point was not that the OF itself was what caused the loss of vocations and reduced mass attendance. What I’m saying is that, first, the changes to the mass that resulted in the OF were not authorized by V2: V2 never said that mass should be entirely in the vernacular, and in fact said that Latin should be retained and that Gregorian chant should be given pride of place. Both of those things have been flatly violated in the vast majority of OF masses since V2.

    And second, that the changes to the mass in violation of V2, were part-and-parcel of a vast, widespread change in attitude, wherein people came to believe that everything pre-V2 was up for grabs. Thus, again Latin and Gregorian chant were jettisoned in violation of V2, religious habits thrown off, doctrines of all kinds called into question, the existence of Hell doubted, papal teachings rejected or ignored (specifically Humane Vitae), and on and on. All of this stuff, together, resulted in massive reductions in vocations and mass attendance.

    Again I’m saying it was a package, and the changes to the mass were an integral part of the package.

    I’m not opposed in principle to the revisions to the mass, including use of the vernacular. I think if they had instituted the revisions carefully and gradually, strictly abiding by the decisions of the Council, they might have been much better accepted by the people and could have had a good long-term result. Instead changes were imposed willy-nilly, in a loose and rebellious manner, in keeping with the rebellious and anti-traditional attitude that prevailed at the time in *all* areas of the Church’s life, not just the mass.

    I think it’s a mistake to believe that the these rebellious attitudes prevailed throughout the Church *except* in the area of the revisions to the mass; that somehow those making the mass revisions were sober and obedient, while everyone around them was going haywire. On the contrary, they were swept up in the same wave of hysteria that prevailed elsewhere, and it showed in the way masses were celebrated for decades afterward. It’s no coincidence that the “hippy” masses, as you call them, made their appearance at the same time as the officially approved mass revisions. Those who wanted the revisions also wanted, or at least welcomed, the hippy masses.

    By the way the new mass translations coming out this Advent reveal yet another symptom of the over-reaching that went on when the new mass was concocted. The vernacular translations were loosey-goosey, and it’s taken this long to reign them in.

  17. I know that the OF *can* be done reverently and in a dignified manner. My point is, that the fact that it normally is *not* done in that manner, is no accident. Those who dreamed up the changes that were implemented were all in favor of guitars, bongos and liturgical dancers. It was the way the changes were implemented, and the attitudes of those who deliberately went beyond what the Council authorized, that encouraged and fostered the kinds of silliness and banality that have resulted.

    Yes, if a pastor is bound and determined to have a reverent and dignified mass, he can do so with the OF. It’s not impossible. My point is that it’s a lot easier to slip into banality and silliness in the days since the OF was introduced, than it was when the EF was the only game in town, because of the attitudes that accompanied the introduction of the OF, and still prevail in the vast majority OF parishes to this day.

  18. With all due to respect for all bishops, I am disappointed by the decision of the English bishops to reinstate mandatory Friday abstinence. While I do not normally eat meat on Friday, and frequently do other Friday penances as a devotion, I think that making meatless Fridays mandatory year-round is not a good idea. Even if one wishes to observe Friday abstinence as much as possible, occasionally there could be good reasons to make an exception (without having to worry about sin). There are at least several situations where I think that being required to abstain would be awkward or impractical (such as birthdays or holidays). For instance, it would seem excessively harsh to require Americans to abstain from meat on the 4th of July (when that day is Friday). Also, it may be impractical to abstain while traveling. Making it a sin to eat meat could also encourage scrupulosity. While I hope the US bishops encourage more suitable voluntary penances, I hope and pray they do not make Friday abstinence mandatory year-round.

  19. Matthew,

    Some of the other commenters have explained why eating meat on the occasional Friday is not something to worry about. We already are granted exceptions on feast days that fall on Fridays (ie. St. Patrick’s Day). I’m not sure why abstaining would be difficult while traveling – I do it all the time.

  20. Mandy – I’ve known a few converts over the years who’ve become involved in EF parishes. Don’t worry about understanding Latin. You don’t have to become a scholar to follow the Mass. A lot of parishes will have paper missalettes with the Latin and English texts.

    But the Tridentine Mass isn’t about language. If I can say this without causing any fistfights, I think that participation in the Novus Ordo Mass in America is more similar to the pre-V2 culture of American Protestantism than to the pre-V2 culture of American Catholicism. (I can’t stress the word “American” strongly enough in that formulation.) The passive posture toward participation in the Old Mass is going to feel alien to you, just as the active posture feels alien to EF Catholics.

    The Catholic Mass is remarkably different from Protestant services. I remember taking a friend to his first Mass; he was blown away by how trinitarian it was. That’s something that a cradle Catholic wouldn’t even have thought about. For converts who approach the Church out of belief (rather than marriage or practice), the difference between the Mass and a Protestant service will be obvious. From a cultural standpoint, however, well, let me put it like this: if you were an outer space alien looking into a Protestant church, a Novus Ordo, and a EF, you’d be confused as to which two were the most similar.

  21. if you were an outer space alien looking into a Protestant church, a Novus Ordo, and a EF, you’d be confused as to which two were the most similar.

    As recently as ten years ago, services in broad and high Anglican parishes in the Genesee Valley were quite dignified in comparison with the common-and-garden Novus Ordo service you see in the Diocese of Syracuse. I can give you the name of an Anglican vicar who felt compelled to resign as rector of a parish near here because his goofing about during services had provoked so many complaints to the diocesan house and so many departures from the parish. Marty Haugen et al. had not acquired much of a constituency in Episcopal parishes. (Regrettably, On Eagles Wings was played at an Episcopal funeral I just attended).

  22. Art – It’s complicated, isn’t it? I think that the low-church Protestant culture has been most dominant in the US among Protestants, and it’s bled over into the way the Novus Ordo was implemented here. But there’s a high church tradition among Protestants here, too. And in other countries, at least from what I’ve heard, the implementation of the new Mass never caused friction. The example I hear most often is Poland, where apparently the vernacular Mass brought nothing but graces and the strengthening of national and religious confidence. It’s said that JPII didn’t really “get” the complaints of traditionalists at the beginning of his pontificate because Poland’s experience had been so positive.

    It’s going to be interesting to see the impact that high-church Anglicans will have on Catholicism as they return. Again, in their experience, the high/low split doesn’t break the same as the orthodox/heretical split. So the returning Anglicans should be from the entire spectrum of liturgical traditions. But would an Anglican “rite” isolate the impact upon mainstream Catholicism? I dunno.

    Anyway, I’ve kept the Friday abstinence for a while. I only rarely forget; sometimes I have to eat what’s put before me, and I try to offer up something else. It’s surprising how many restaurants still have Friday fish specials. I think if it became a Catholic rule again, you’d see a resurgence in white sauces and seafoods, and maybe even Caesar salads without chicken in them. It’d be accepted pretty quickly, I’d bet.

  23. I would tend to doubt that the hymnody of contemporary Catholic parishes has any counterpart in protestant congregations. The Novus Ordinary parish nearest me subscribes to the pubications of Oregon Catholic Press and about 85% of the music selected has been published since 1966. I suspect you would find a great deal of contemporary music in most evangelical parishes, but stylistically quite different.

  24. It meant something that many around you were doing the same thing. It was a phsical reminder in case you “forgot” what day it was. Even fast food places had the fish sandwich advertised during meatless Fridays. Everyone doing their own thing as led to the evaporation of the practice all together. I asked numerous Catholics I know this week what they give up on Friday and none had a clue what I was talking about. That speaks volumes. We should all in unity under the direction AND instruction from Rome and out US Bishops abstain once again from meat on Fridays, together. There always were and will be exceptions, sickness etc., but people who fight it for no other reason than THEY feel it obsolete do a great diservice to the reason for the practice in the first place. The fact remains, for all but a few, the unity and sacrifice of Friday sacrifice is gone in the Catholic world. Bring back the meatless Fridays and the majority will slowly but surely follow. It will unify many, many people.

  25. Mitch, I attended a parochial grade and high school during the ’70’s (and a Jesuit university. The Jesuits have some practices that vaguely resemble Catholicism). I reverted to Catholicism in 2005, but until I read this post I swear I had no idea that we were supposed to abstain from something every Friday. I never heard it – not from any nun, priest or teacher.

    “Bring back the meatless Fridays and the majority will slowly but surely follow. It will unify many, many people.”

    I believe you’re right about this. I am now keen to observe meatless Fridays, although honestly, they are not that difficult for me, since I never met a properly prepared seafood dish I didn’t like. Nicholas Jagneaux, do you want to trade places with me? I would be in heaven eating crawfish and seafood gumbos and I hope you would be able to get through Fridays just fine relying on our Wisconsin cheeses (and the artisan cheeses from small farms are getting tastier all the time)for your protein needs.

  26. “the beauty and grace of a Tupperware party in a gymnasium.”


    I don’t want to ignore the substance of the post. I kind knew that Friday’s are meatless, but for the Bishop’s intervention. However, I have seen the dietary restrictions as a personal sacrifice, disconnected with the communal face of the Church. The post and comments suggest an alternative view: that public sacrifice witnesses to the Faith. I need to ruminate on this.

    With regards to the ongoing debate about the NO, I think that the extreme actions of some tar the whole.

    The is a huge difference between a different expression of the Mass that grows “organically” and one imposed on a parish by those with an agenda. The difference between the practice of the NO in a black or Hispanic or Hatian Catholic church in America and that of a “progressive” parish is one of intentionality and therein lies the sin.

    When stationed in Norfolk, VA, I went to Mass with an entirely black congregation. The church had no kneelers attached to the pews, a decidedly black Jesus crucified above the altar, and the saints that were pictured throughout were chosen to connect with the black experience in America. The Mass was a full half hour longer, at least in part because the sign of peace was a virtual break in the Mass with everyone getting out of their pews and saying hello to people on the other side of the church. CCD was attended by everyone, not just children who went to public school but by those that went to Catholic schools too.

    It certainly deviated from my experiences growing up in Philadelphia but it was “natural” and it “fit” the community. Vatican II merely made lawful what already existed there, it gave voice to the broader expression of faith already in existence but stifled by a romish impulse that validated only the culture of a people in decline (Italians) while diminishing the cultural identity of the vibrant Church in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. This is worlds apart from the forced progressivism of parishes taken over by preening and cocksure Baby-Boomers intent on turning the Church INTO something else.

    At it’s best, the NO let’s faithful Catholic communities be who they already are, at it’s worst, it lets progressives hijack the faith and drive it off of a cliff.

  27. Donna,

    I’d love to trade places – except during the winter! Brrrr Wisconsin seems too cold for this Cajun. I wouldn’t know how to drive.

    (As a sidenote – I was planning a vacation/pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help this summer, but, alas!, things just didn’t work out. I was going to include tours of creameries, but, more importantly, breweries.)

    As for eating seafood on Fridays, it is true that for those – like my wife and daughter – who like seafood, the penance is not especially difficult. But, as our former pastor said: the Friday penance is not an excuse to eat seafood platters. He suggested we substitute something simple, like eggs or peanut butter or tuna (from a can).

    And, I’m with Mitch: Christians need a visible unity. This is a small – but wonderful – way to show that we are in the world, but not of it.

  28. Of late I have attempted to observe either fasting or abstinence on Fridays. A couple of weeks ago, I got a call around noon on a Friday from the local blood center asking if I could donate ASAP… I agreed but set the appointment for several hours later so that I could break my fast first. Unfortunately, when I reported to the center I flunked the blood test (red cell count was a shade too low). I’ll try again at a later date and make sure to eat lots of iron-packed foods like spinach first….

    Although you can only do it every 8 weeks (56 days), I would suggest that giving blood, if you are able, is one of the most appropriate “substitute” Friday penances there is. What better way to honor the One who shed all of His Blood for our sake, than to shed a little of yours for the sake of another?

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