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Why Do Catholics Give Up Meat on Friday’s in Lent?

2/17/2015

In this new series, “Why Do Catholics Do That?” we will explore common questions about the faith and provide a brief explanation. This week’s question is…    

Why Do Catholic’s Give Up Meat On Friday’s in Lent?

Fish There are a bevy of reasons for Catholics abstaining from eating meat on Fridays in Lent. Many scholars state that in Jesus’ time, fish was the meal of the common people and meat was only for the rich, and abstaining from meat was an act of simplicity. Some regard giving up meat as an ancient gesture to help the struggling fishing industry in the early years. Yet, some other scholars believe that eating fish was inherently safer than eating meat in ancient times.

Additionally, in ancient times, and often in modern times throughout most of the world, meat can be more expensive than fish, and thus eating meat was viewed as a meal for only the rich people of the town. Conversely, eating fish was scene as a modern “shout out” to the poor who could only afford fish.

Regardless of the historical root, the main reason we give up meat in Lent, and the reason we fast from food one hour before mass, is to acknowledge Christ’s sacrifice and his dying for us. It is an opportunity for us, in a very small way, to experience his suffering and to remind us of his sacrifice for our sins. Abstinence from meat is more than just “going without” during Lent, or just a reminder of Christ, it is a form of prayer and a form of discipline.

In 1 Peter 4:1, it states that “since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Whoever can make this minor sacrifice is making a step closer to Christ, and a step further away from sin.

Adapted from “Why Do Catholics Abstain From Meat on Friday’s in Lent” by Mark Hart.

Do you have a question about our faith? Please email Nate Friday at nfriday@stmatthias-milw.org with your questions. Please  title the email, “Why Do Catholics Do That” and we’ll answer it.

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