The Deacon's Bench

Try fasting, says one British bishop. 

From the Guardian:

The Right Rev Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, said the traditional Friday Fast Day was a “source of pride” and something that marked Catholics out as different.

In his pastoral letter, extracts of which are published in the weekly Catholic periodical The Tablet, he wrote that the practice “was one of the most obvious signs of Catholic identity, apart from going to mass.”

He said: “It determined the diet in places like prison and hospital, and was something Catholics were instinctively conscious of: we knew that we couldn’t have meat like everybody else that day and it was a source of a sort of pride – it marked us out as different.”

He claimed that today’s Catholics were “less willing to be marked out” in case they were accused of being “odd”.

The bishop also said he wanted people to say grace before meals, put a crucifix in a window, and tell their friends they had attended church.

The official position is that English and Welsh Catholics do penance on Fridays – by either abstaining from meat or some other food or performing a work of penance such as visiting the sick – but it is not compulsory.

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