So yesterday we celebrated FFF – Familia Fun Fest – with my side of the family. Although very hot and humid, we had a great day of celebration. My dad was one of three children and his only surviving sibling was there – Fr. Dorhauer. My mom was one of six siblings and she and her only surviving sister – Jackie (and her husband Jim) were there. Long family tree made short, all of my brothers and sister were there with our spouses, most of our kids and most of our grand kids and all of my Aunt Jackie’s children and grand children – so needless to say we had a crowd. It’s a very rare occasion that we are all together (most of my siblings live out of town), so yesterday was a very special day for me because we all remain close to this day. Social media may be a struggle for some, but my family stays close through our constant use of text messaging. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I went on a float trip the day before and was out of a cell range. When I got back into range, my cell phone went nuts ringing constantly for better than a minute as 197 text messages rang through.
As the meal for the evening ended and we were all sitting around talking about the days past, the conversation turned to – of all things – why do we abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent? My aunt Jackie and mother are old school (and I still try to do this also) and they won’t eat meat on Friday’s period. My younger brother Jim, in his most subtle demeanor, asked why we would do this anyway? He stated quite eloquently that while our Savior was hanging on the Cross, he didn’t recall anything like the following uttered from the mouth of our Savior…”John, behold your Mother. Mary, behold your Son. To the good thief…”On this day, you will be with me in paradise”…to the rest of you…”No meat on Friday’s”…”It is finished.” In order to keep the peace, I smiled at Jim, called him an ass and the conversation went on from there. NO – I didn’t call my brother an ass…but I thought it. 🙂
So, the more formal response is that since that fateful Friday, the Church has always treated Friday’s as a day of repentance. It is a way to remember the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us on that Friday by doing something out of our ordinary way of life. Did Christ say “No meat on Friday’s”? Of course not and the Church is all about what Jesus taught us to do. So why abstain? One of the things that Jesus established and did teach us was to have an authority here for his flock to guide us on the path to His righteousness. He taught us that what they bound here on earth will also be bound in heaven. St. Paul taught us to follow both the written word and the traditions established by the Church. It just so happens that one of those traditions is using Friday as a day of repentance and sacrifice. There was a time when every Friday was a day of abstinence but the USCCB has modified that – which is their right to do so – to be observed on the Friday’s of Lent (unless that Friday is a Solemnity) and fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Here is a link from one Catholic Answers apologists (Matt Fradd) (aired everyday on EWTN from 4-6PM)…Why I’m sticking to meatless Fridays.
Jim, I love you man, just wanted to give you the reason why we eat Jack Salmon on Friday.
Do something great for our Lord today – think about what you can sacrifice every Friday to remind your self of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have Faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.