Via Media

Via Media


To me, at least…

posted by awelborn

…the core of the problem with Roman Catholic spiritual life as it has evolved in the US is encapsulated in one phrase, read in your church bulletin or advertised in the diocesan paper or even blasted on a sign hanging outside of your parish.

“All-You-Can-Eat Lenten Fish Fry”

That’s the spirit!



Advertisement
Comments read comments(42)
post a comment
al

posted March 31, 2004 at 9:48 am


That’s definitely the problem in the Church and World today: people who care enough to abstain from meat on Fridays. Quickly canvas those who deride the traditional abstinence as to what they give up. I think you’ll find more often than not, they’ve forgotten the injunction entirely, because its this nebulous encouragement to give up “something” fitting. And in contemplating the sort of sacrifice that would be “worthy” (more of them than of God) they’ve despaired of finding anything appropriately authentic.
Its not about “authenticity”, its about obedience.



report abuse
 

caroline

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:20 am


Each Lent I see the fast and abstinence rules tucked away in the parish bulletin or diocesan newspaper but never spoken about from the altar. It’s hard to believe that the clergy expect us to take them seriously since they don’t talk about them. Are they afraid that if they talked about the fast and abstinence rules, someone would ask “Is it a mortal sin if I deliberately ignore them?” and then what would father say? Maybe he would rather not face dealing with such questions



report abuse
 

stan

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:20 am


I think the point here is not the fish but rather the “all you can eat”. Gluttony in the midst of obeying a Church rule.



report abuse
 

Chris-2-4

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:38 am


I don’t know Caroline. I think the bulletin is just the right place for that. I certainly don’t want to hear about fasting and abstinence from the Altar. Perhaps during the announcements at the end of mass. I think it is a sad commentary that people have come to expect their entire dose of interaction with the clergy and indeed the entire Church at Mass. The Mass is a time for worship, not for keeping up to date on happenings in the Parish, Diocese or Universal Church. But some people really think that the Priest has some kind of obligation to update them on any thing they might need to know from the most recent Papal Encyclical to the handling of the Abuse Scandal to how much the Bingo Tickets are at the Parish Picnic.



report abuse
 

Matt W.

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:44 am


I feel obliged to note that the problem is not universal. My parish offers a spare meal on Friday evenings after the Stations (e.g., baked potato and salad). Also, while there are many things I’d like to hear my pastor talk about that go unmentioned, one of his homilies early this Lent was about the importance of fasting and almsgiving and how they must be done in prayer. Our parish certainly has its problems but we manage to get some things right.



report abuse
 

al

posted March 31, 2004 at 11:13 am


I think the point here is the “legalism” of the “pre conciliar era” which is the favored straw man for the pox on both your houses school of Ecclesiology/Spirituality (ie the Spirit of VII liberals may be bad, but the preconciliar Church is still the root of the problem).
Who can say whether someone at such a “fish fry” is “authentically” manifesting the spirit of the injunction or not. That’s between them and God. The “legalism” though, gave us a minimum standard to live up to, even if many chose not to go beyond it.
Now we have some kind of perpetual Kierkegaardian existential crisis enjoined as piety. I find “existentialism” self indulgent. At least the Pope gives us a standard: Weekly Confession



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:31 pm


I don’t know, but eating those little frozen fish patties and fries our Knights cook up during Lent is a real penance.
But I take Amy’s point from my first rectory experience: each Friday during Lent we priests would have salmon for lunch. Oh my goodness, it was so good. Sinful, even.



report abuse
 

Tim

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:33 pm


I thought fasting, two small meals and one regular meal and no snacks, was specified for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The other Friday’s, we were just to abstain from meat. Of course there is nothing wrong with people denying themselves and exceeding the minimum requirement set forth by the Church. Also is this the Universal Churchs’ rule or does each Bishop make the rule in his diocese?
Now here is a good one. At our Friday fish fry, the KofC sell beer. Where does everyone come down on that?



report abuse
 

Meggan

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:54 pm


I thought fasting, two small meals and one regular meal and no snacks, was specified for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
You know… I’ve always thought that to be a strange way to fast. Except for the no snacks, that’s pretty much the way I eat every day.



report abuse
 

Cathy J

posted March 31, 2004 at 12:54 pm


This relates to something I’ve considered as an adult; what if you have access to good, likable fish on Fridays? Is it really a penance? Is it more appropriate to eat something more..unpleasant, or sparse, say, entirely vegetarian (which, for me at least, would be more penetential). I mean, I’d eat crab or lobster, or scallops in season and out, so how can I really say I’m scarificing on Fridays?
Maybe I should try those fish sticks…



report abuse
 

Lisa C

posted March 31, 2004 at 1:00 pm


Beer at a Lenten fish fry? Doesn’t strike me as very penitential.



report abuse
 

Fr. Paul

posted March 31, 2004 at 1:28 pm


I’m with Meggan. I haven’t eaten breakfast in probably 30 years and often eat only one meal a day and rarely snack. It’s just me and my metabolism, but does this mean I’ve been fasting for 30 years? Rather than this odd definition of fasting, I’d like to see something like a bread-only fast. That would be a sacrifice and very symbolic in its simplicity.



report abuse
 

Steve Cavanaugh

posted March 31, 2004 at 1:41 pm


Cathy asked: “This relates to something I’ve considered as an adult; what if you have access to good, likable fish on Fridays? Is it really a penance?”
Well, the rule about Friday abstinence is not that you have to eat fish, only that you may not eat meat. My youngest child won’t eat any meat but an occasional hot dog. So for Lent, she decided to give up potatoes. For her (she’s 12) this is a true penance, as she would normally have potatoes at least twice per day. Now it’s a Sunday’s only thing.
By abstaining from meat all of Catholics start on the same page for Lent (and for those who have learned of the continuing obligation of Friday penance, for the whole year), but the minimum is not something that any spiritual writer would suggest is sufficient. Hence the custom of giving up something for Lent.
The Eastern Churches have a much stricter fasting regimen, but it is not so much a legal requirement as a goal to strive for, and even without the threat of penalty or guilt, they seem to do a good bit more fasting. What we need in the Latin Church is not a tightening up of the laws, but of more preaching about penance, its goals and methods (IMHO).



report abuse
 

kevin

posted March 31, 2004 at 2:11 pm


“At our Friday fish fry, the KofC sell beer. Where does everyone come down on that?”
That depends Tim. Is it ‘All-you-can-drink’ too?
I’m SO there baby! Make it Killian’s!



report abuse
 

fr richard

posted March 31, 2004 at 2:59 pm


In my Eastern Catholic parish, some people keep the entire Lenten fast (basically, no animal products of any kind)every day, from the start until Easter….with a few exceptions for feastdays.
Others make their own, less strict, personal ways of fasting, according to their personal and family and health situations.
I just ask them to make a fast that they consider “acceptable” to the Lord, which is guided by our tradition as a goal to be reached, but need not be slavishly followed.
I’m glad to say that, over the years, more and more people have taken on more and more of the traditional fasting penance, as they find that it has a genuine impact and a tangible bearing on their spiritual lives.
And that makes a pastor glad.



report abuse
 

Tim

posted March 31, 2004 at 3:47 pm


kevin,
I think it is all you can buy. So I guess that would make it “all you can drink”. :)
Actually, it didn’t look like there was much activity at the bar at the three dinners I attended.



report abuse
 

Matt W.

posted March 31, 2004 at 4:23 pm


Rather than this odd definition of fasting, I’d like to see something like a bread-only fast. That would be a sacrifice and very symbolic in its simplicity.
The suggested fast for the E5 Men is bread only. Man is there a big difference between that and the prescribed Ash Wed., Good Friday fasts. There is no way I can have two small meals and one regular meal on Good Friday after having done bread only for my E5 fast two days earlier. That would just feel weird.



report abuse
 

Maclin Horton

posted March 31, 2004 at 4:23 pm


…what if you have access to good, likable fish on Fridays? Is it really a penance? Is it more appropriate to eat something more….unpleasant…
Brussels sprouts!



report abuse
 

Jenny

posted March 31, 2004 at 4:31 pm


I wish I could be like you guys who only eat one meal a day normally. My husband does it regularly with no ill effects. I decided for Ash Wednesday I would do bread and water only and by 3 o’clock I had a whopping migraine. This shouldn’t have been a big surprise to me since going long periods without food in the past has done this. So now I eat a small protien portion (like milk or yogurt) for the two small meals on Fridays. I’m a little hungry but I don’t get a headache. As a family we have a simple fish or vegetarian dinner.
I think most of us can do OK with less than we normally eat, but we aren’t supposed to make ourselves sick are we?



report abuse
 

Kirk

posted March 31, 2004 at 5:49 pm


Remember that Jesus said to fast in private and not let your neighbor know you are fasting.
All these discussions imply that someone who chooses a more restrictive fast is better than one who does not. Fr. Paul says he’d like to see something like a ‘bread-only fast.’ Well, Fr. Paul, no one is stopping you. Go for it. Just don’t tell me about it.



report abuse
 

Peggy

posted March 31, 2004 at 5:50 pm


I remember all the Friday fish fry places, not just KofC, we went to when I was a kid. I did not know then that pre-V2 every Friday was meatless.
I have eaten excellent French onion soup on recent Fridays. I have gotten into cheese pizza too, in meat abstinence on Fridays. Yeah, the sacrifice seems to be missing when I eat something else I really like. Though the salads at a deli near my office are so dull, I must eat them for lunch.



report abuse
 

Michael

posted March 31, 2004 at 6:10 pm


Mmmmmmmm . . . Lenten Fish Fry.
I am *so* there.



report abuse
 

Jane

posted March 31, 2004 at 6:47 pm


In response to Jenny’s question about making oneself sick because of fasting, well, since Jesus told us to wash our faces and comb our hair so that no one would know we were fasting, I think that we shouldn’t make ourselves sick. If I am ill (and possibly unable to concentrate on the work I ought to be doing) because my fast is so strict, I think that is taking it too far.



report abuse
 

Mark Shea

posted March 31, 2004 at 7:08 pm


My problem is: I love seafood. So it tends to beans or grilled cheese on Friday or else I can’t hardly say I’m abstaining.



report abuse
 

Sulpicius Severus

posted March 31, 2004 at 7:21 pm


Traditional rules for fasting days throughout the entire of Lent call for 2 small meatless meals that do not equal a full meal, and one full meal. Liquids ok, so snacks. Friday abstinence is as observed during the rest of the entire year. Yet another example of Vatican II modernism being a different religion from Holy Religion. UIOGD,



report abuse
 

Sulpicius Severus

posted March 31, 2004 at 7:21 pm


Make that no snacks. UIOGD,



report abuse
 

caroline

posted March 31, 2004 at 7:24 pm


When the food nasizs all get their way, then for us the only question is going to be two or three cans of Ensure each day. Anyone who wants to meet contemporary health criteria is going to be fasting every day all year long. Can anyone but the congenitally super thin fast purely for religious motives anymore? By all means, fast for health, but let’s cut the nonsense that there is anything religious about it.



report abuse
 

Donald R. McClarey

posted March 31, 2004 at 7:56 pm


I wish most masses were as well attended as our parish fish fries put on by the K of C. At our last one we had 250 people in attendance. I must say I view these as positive for increasing good feeling and camraderie in the parish, although having them in Lent is contra the self denial of the season. Tis a puzzlement.



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted March 31, 2004 at 8:35 pm


Actually the Lenten Friday Abstinence thing really is abstinence on my part. Maybe it is on the part of others, as well. Let me explain. I’m not much of a meat (or fish) eater, naturally. So, it’s not *up there* on my radar. I have to really work to avoid getting something accidentally that is seasoned with meat since I don’t really think in terms of meat-eating very much. A lot of foods are seasoned with meat, you know. Just my 2 cents worth.



report abuse
 

Maureen

posted March 31, 2004 at 10:12 pm


I think all-you-can-eat differs. Quite frankly, I don’t eat more than two meals a day usually — and smaller than Lent meals at that — so when I go to an all-you-can-eat place, all I can eat is about a plateful. And that’s if I’m really hungry.
Lent really is a logistical challenge for me. I always have to try to remember to eat, but not too much or it’ll count as the big meal, and not too little, or I’ll get sick. And then I worry about whether it really is too big or too small.
It never occurred to me to worry about how good the food is. Ummmmm, look, if you told my mom she’s supposed to make sucky food for Lent, I’m thinking you wouldn’t get a good response. And I _know_ the Greek Orthodox ladies make good stuff during Lent. In fact, most countries that celebrate Lent have special Lenten cuisines. I’m not saying we should all be eating caviar on Fridays or something, but there’s nothing wrong with exercising creativity inside the rules. In fact, I would call Lenten cuisines a kind of Catholic art.
Besides…I _really_ enjoy bread and water. I can’t think of anything yummier. I even love saltines. So how dare you claim to be fasting when you get to eat such ambrosial delights and drink such crystalline purity? ;) Honestly, you could drive yourself ’round the bend trying to find something yucky enough for someone who likes most foods. (The only food I truly hate is liver…and I’m thinking that’s meat….)
Medieval Lenten recipes:
http://www.coquinaria.nl/english/recipes/03.2histrecept.htm
This site correctly notes that medieval Lent in the West was stricter than under Trent. Darn that wimpy Tridentine church! They should never have called the Council of Trent!
http://www.vegsource.com/lenten.htm has some interesting info on Orthodox fasting and pastoral care. :)
This Kent Lent tart looks good:
http://www.britannia.com/cooking/recipes/kentlent.htm



report abuse
 

Victor Morton

posted April 1, 2004 at 2:30 am


Matt W. wrote:
The suggested fast for the E5 Men is bread only.
and Maureen wrote:
Besides…I _really_ enjoy bread and water.
So now everyone now gets to hear Victor’s Bread-Only Lent Fast Story:
The year of my confirmation (I’m an adult revert), I followed the priest who brought me back and gave up all food except bread and water. I defined bread fairly broadly to include plain rolls and, in our multiculturally-sensitive era, such “cooked dough” foods as tortillas, biscuits, pita, nan, etc. but was rigorous about toppings/flavorings … none at all. After all, pizza is just bread with “stuff” on it. And I didn’t shy away from going out with friends to restaurants or bars as I normally would — I would just make the excuse that I wasn’t hungry or didn’t want to get drunk.
At the time, I was living with three of my fraternity brothers (the only people I told at the time), and I was the only one who liked to cook other than barbecuing, which is the only kind of cooking A Real Texas Man admits to. So I de facto became the house cook. One thing I often made for weekend breakfast was chocolate-chip pancakes, which my brothers adored.
During that Lent, everyone agreed that since I was abstaining from basically all food, I shouldn’t cook. I even bought my own bread and was thus completely absolved of paying my share of the food bill. After about four weeks, I was doing OK but then Blake comes up to me and says “Victor, I know you can’t eat, but could you see your way to making your special chocolate-chip pancakes” or some other really honeyed come-on that he might have used to start begging his girlfriend for something else.
I figure, “well, OK … no reason to impose so rigorously my fast on my friends.” So we get up the next morning and I start mixing the batter when a dribble of it with a prominent chocolate chip leaks over the side of the bowl. Out of sheer force of habit, I run my finger along the edge of the bowl to clean off and then stick my finger in my mouth. The taste of chocolate alights on my taste buds. Oh … s**t.
I let out a “Charlie Brown in midair after Lucy yanks the ball away” AAAAAARGHHHHH!!!!! and immediately grab a paper towel and start wiping the batter off my tongue. One of my roomies rushes into the kitchen (probably thinking I cut myself badly or something) and starts laughing when he sees what I’m doing.
What made it even more difficult, from a religious point of view, was that all three of them were evangelical Protestants and I had to explain to them (I hope convincingly, but probably not) that the Church does not teach that God would have turned to me on Judgment Day and said, “well, you almost get in, Victor, but that quick taste of pancake batter nullified your 1992 Lent fast … off to Hell you go.”



report abuse
 

Fr. Brian Stanley

posted April 1, 2004 at 7:24 am


Bread only fast: what would the poor people who are on the Atkins diet do?



report abuse
 

Sulpicius Severus

posted April 1, 2004 at 7:46 am


FYI:
“Fast. All persons over twenty-one and under fifty-nine years of age must fast. This means that on a fast day they may have only one principal or full meal and two smaller meals. They may eat meat at this principal meal, except on days of complete abstinence. At the two smaller meals they may not have meat, but they may take sufficient food to maintain their strength. However, these two smaller meals together should be less than a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, may be taken any time on a fast day. The days of fast are the weekdays of Lent including Holy Saturday (until noon), the Ember Days, and the Vigils of Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas (or December 23).” (From Traditio.com. Emphasis added).
N.B. It’s a mortal sin to knowingly break Lenten Fast (or any day of fast/abstinence). Yet another sign of the existence of multiple “Catholic” churches: something (among many other things) that was always a mortal sin still is, in the catacombs. What are the Vatican II modernist documents that explain this away? Surely there are a plethora of them, but I haven’t taken the time to research them.
Per omnia . . . UIOGD,



report abuse
 

Maureen

posted April 1, 2004 at 8:16 am


Mortal sin? Oh, come now, Severus! Are you really going to point at this? Well, let’s go look at the reasons why breaking fast can be considered a mortal sin.
From the Summa Theologica:
“Objection 2. Further, whoever infringes a precept commits a mortal sin. Therefore if fasting were a matter of precept, all who do not fast would sin mortally, and a widespreading snare would be laid for men…
“Reply to Objection 2. Those commandments which are given under the form of a general precept, do not bind all persons in the same way, but subject to the requirements of the end intended by the lawgiver. It will be a mortal sin to disobey a commandment through contempt of the lawgiver’s authority, or to disobey it in such a way as to frustrate the end intended by him: but it is not a mortal sin if one fails to keep a commandment, when there is a reasonable motive, and especially if the lawgiver would not insist on its observance if he were present. Hence it is that not all, who do not keep the fasts of the Church, sin mortally.”
So it’s only a mortal sin if you’re willfully breaking the fast with the express intention of flouting one of the Church’s commands.
(Which leads one to wonder what the penalties are for claiming the rest of the Church isn’t really the Church and waving said claim and said flouting in the faces of the faithful….)
Seriously, Severus, if you’re going to be all holier-than-thou and holier-than-the-Pope, you’re going to have to dig deeper into the real traditions of the Church — and that means looking beyond the Baltimore Catechism and the Council of Trent. You need to know not just laws, but the reasons behind them. Otherwise, you’re going to be like a Wiccan trying to be a “pagan in a creed outworn” who doesn’t know the first thing about history or mythology. But like the Wiccan, if you do look, you’re going to find out that you have a lot of misconceptions. And if you’re not careful, you might just find that God is using the new info to draw you back home to the Church.



report abuse
 

John

posted April 1, 2004 at 8:18 am


For me, refraining from meat is a reminder…you may eat fish or lobster, if when you do also recollect why you are doing what you are doing. The fast is in the recollection not in the eating or not eating.



report abuse
 

Cathy J

posted April 1, 2004 at 10:12 am


So after all the discussion..fish sticks, it seems, or a really complete fast, in the Eastern Orthodox manner. Although, like Jenny, I get migraines if I skip a meal. Besides, I like bread as well as brussel sprouts. Maybe I should stop reading blogs for Lent. Or read ones that annoy, like Matt Y. Really though, the discussion above is probably the most seriously I’ve considered the entire matter since I was 9 or so. So thanks to you all.



report abuse
 

Sandra Miesel

posted April 1, 2004 at 11:08 am


Spanish Catholics must have belonged to a different religion during the Middle Ages because they enjoyed a “Crusader” privilege of being allowed to eat on meat on Friday.



report abuse
 

Victor Morton

posted April 1, 2004 at 3:30 pm


John wrote:
“For me, refraining from meat is a reminder …”
I’ve had that thought more than once myself. The last time came when I was at an out-of-town film festival on a Friday and so was eating at a pub — a nice tart microbrew, lobster bisque and some deep-fried cheese sticks w/marinara sauce.
I said to myself “is this really fasting?” In the “Jesus in the desert” sense, undoubtedly not. But in the sense that I was at this nice place, but the menu had only a couple of entrees that I could have and none I like; in the sacramentals or “reminder” sense of the Church intruding on a secular pursuit — the same sense that one wears a scapular or medallion; and the somewhat devotional quality that this mental debate conferred on what I ate. It was much more conscious than I think I’ve ever been that this was “thy gifts from thy bounty.” I remember the meal far more explicitly than the movie I had just come out of (I had to look it up just now for curiosity’s sake — THE KILLING).



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted April 1, 2004 at 6:20 pm


Well, over and above the sign being a provacative topic on a blog, I find it interesting because in a lot of real ways, it sums up pretty neatly what my experience of Catholicism has been like. This *IS* the general attitude year round. It’s just humorously captured in signs this time of year. I laughed and then groaned when I read the original article on the blog earlier this week.



report abuse
 

Liam

posted April 1, 2004 at 9:00 pm


Maureen:
Thank you.



report abuse
 

Sulpicius Severus

posted April 1, 2004 at 10:49 pm


Vatican II is the ultimate in flouting of the rules of Fast and Abstinence!
As well as the harbor for Wiccans.
Veritas. UIOGD,



report abuse
 

michigancatholic

posted April 2, 2004 at 8:11 pm


Abstinence on Friday is a discipline, not a doctrine, remember.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

There is nothing I shall want
A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as on

posted 9:24:16am Mar. 05, 2009 | read full post »

Revolutionary Road - Is it just me?
Why am I the only person I know..or even "know" in the Internet sense of "knowing"  - who didn't hate it? I didn't love it, either. There was a lot wrong with it. Weak characterization. Miscasting. Anvil-wielding mentally ill prophets.But here's the thing.Whether or not Yates' original novel in

posted 9:45:04pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Books for Lent
No, I'm not going to ask you about your Lenten reading lists...although I might.Not today, though. This post is about giving books to others. For Lent, and a long time after that. You know how it goes during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, right?Well, here's a worthy recipient for your hard-

posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No?Okay...how about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling Episcopalians, all the better.To tell the truth, you can bl

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every minute of labor, describing the intensity of discomfor

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.