Why No Meat On Fridays?

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When we hear people turn down meat at mealtime, the first thought is oh! He or she must be a vegetarian or has health issues. Check the day. If it’s a Friday, then chances are declining meat is not a lifestyle choice or due to underlying health issues, but for religious reasons. 

Why No Meat On Fridays

How A Meatless Friday Began.

From the first century, the day of the crucifixion of Christ has been traditionally observed as a day of abstaining from meat to honor Christ who sacrificed His flesh on a Friday (Klein, P., Catholic Source Book, 78).

This tradition is particular to Catholics who generally abstain from meat on Good Fridays and the Fridays of Lent.

However, abstinence from meat goes beyond Good Friday and Lenten Fridays. 

In the United States in 1966, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops passed rules that dictate that all persons from age fourteen should abstain from meat on Fridays of Lent and throughout the year.

This act of abstinence is a form of penance for Catholics who use the spiritual exercise to call to mind their sins. It is also a form of sacrifice to become more Christ-like. 

Meat includes the flesh of mammals and poultry which are made up of beef and pork, chicken and turkey. While meat is prohibited, the non-meat products of these animals are not. Meat is often substituted for by-products like milk, cheese, butter, and eggs.

Do Catholics Really Not Eat Meat on Fridays? 

Ask an average modern-day Catholic and chances are they only abstain from meat during the Lenten period. 

In the early days, meat was considered something only the rich could afford and that made abstaining from it easy as only a certain class could afford it anyway. Today, the price of meat is relatively the same as fish, cheese, and other substitutes. 

Still, most catholic practitioners don’t know or choose to ignore the practice of No Meat Fridays. Some Catholics definitely feel the rule went away at some point! This assumption is partly because as a fallout of the 1966 conference of the bishops, Catholics were permitted to seek alternative forms of penance on Fridays, mostly because the meat was no longer a luxury reserved for the rich alone. 

Today, most practitioners find alternative means of penance like charity and almsgiving to substitute for eating meat any day they feel like it. 

One Friday Off.

As religion spread and the catholic church expanded,  the Vatican sought to adapt to a changing society that was bringing about economic development. The Big Church gave bishops the power to slightly bend the rules to make them compatible with changing lifestyles.  

Consequently, Catholics in the United States were allowed to eat meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is always observed on a Thursday. 

 Another day when meat can be eaten without guilt (for those who adhere to the norm) is St. Patrick’s Day; an Irish-American commemoration.

One Friday Off and More.

A changing world means people change and adapt to the changes around them. Economic growth and societal development lead to people changing. The change also means that more people become secular and practices that conform one to certain norms and traditions consciously or unconsciously ebb away. 

The practice of No Meat Friday is most peculiar to Catholics but you could find some people of orthodox faith sharing this tradition. These people or groups of people will come across different people from different walks of life who may have never heard of a No Meat Friday! 

 In some cases, mingling with people who do not share the same faith tends to create a loophole in our choices. Perhaps to avoid embarrassing questions or maybe out of fear of being termed a loser, one could discover that disintegration has happened between choosing to evolve and blend in and one’s religious beliefs. 

Also, the ready availability of meat in various popular and mouth-watering fast foods like steaks, burgers, and as a side dish to french fries makes No Meat Friday a difficult tradition to adhere to. 

The hustle and bustle lifestyle of an average American means there’s little time for tradition and religious obligations. Nowadays, Fridays are typically Thank God It’s Friday, and the thought of not eating meat for those who have been taught the tradition is hardly a “thing” anymore.

Nonetheless, those who have been called to observe No Meat Friday do so to take a step closer to the Lord, and regardless of societal changes and development, they manage to uphold this tradition. 

For the Catholic faithful and those of other faith and believer who have chosen to walk this part, it’s the season of Lent again. It’s a good time to refresh and remember Why No Meat on Fridays. 

Why No Meat On Fridays?

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