fish fry

Most Christians of many denominations abstain from eating meat for part or all of the liturgical season. For Roman Catholics, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential times and days throughout the entire Church. Additionally, abstinence from eating meat or other food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops should be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they’re solemnities.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday, which is why the day is penitential. Giving up meat on Fridays might sound easy or non-consequential, but Fr. David Paternostro told Fox News Digital that it has a deeper meaning. He says by giving up something so familiar that sustains us, we have a chance to set Fridays apart and reflect on what happened on Good Friday and how it sustains us spiritually. In this case, meat is defined as the organ or flesh meat of fowl and mammals, meaning that lard, broth, and other byproducts don’t count as consuming meat, even if they come from fowl or mammals.

Also, fish don’t count as meat for Lenten’s abstinence. Unlike mammals and birds, fish and shellfish are cold-blooded. Given that fish is an allowed food during Lenten Fridays, it’s become a tradition in parts of the United States for churches to have a fish-fry dinner during the Fridays of Lent.

Fish fries in the United States.

According to Travel Wisconsin, the fish fry first made its way to the U.S. with the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Much of the Midwest, along with Buffalo, New York, and Pennsylvania, have strong fish-fry traditions that have continued to the present day. Usually, food at a Lenten Friday fish fry is served at a community center or church hall and involves baked or fried perch, cod, or similar fish. The food is typically prepared and served by members of the church. Side dishes of hush puppies, French fries, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw are also typical at Lenten fish fries.

Fr. Edward Looney, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Shawano, Wisconsin, is reviving his parish’s fish fry this year as a way to raise money for his parish and build a community. He told Fox News Digital that a lot of bars do fish fries all year, and he has memories of going out for fish most Fridays as a child. In Wisconsin, parish fish fries serve as an alternative to bar culture during Lent. Looney said most parishioners follow the guidelines of abstaining from meat on Fridays. He also said if everyone is eating fish, why not eat fish at church and support the parish?

How inflation affects the fish fries.

The rising cost of fish and other groceries have made the fish fry less profitable than in years past, but Looney thinks it’s great for building a community and bringing non-Catholics and Catholics together for food around the table. Looney’s last parish stopped its annual fish fry during the coronavirus pandemic, but he says they thought it was essential to bring it back for the sake of having an event in their small rural community. His new parish hasn’t had a fish fry in the last few years.

However, Looney recommended bringing it back as part of a fundraiser and to gather the parish and school communities. Nick Sciarappa, the youth minister at St. Luke the Evangelist in Ambridge and Sewickley, Pennsylvania, says his parish holds two fish fries during Lent. The fish fries contribute to teen retreats, scholarships, mission trip funding, and especially calorie intake.

Eating fish on Fridays may not seem like a big deal to most people, but for Chrisitans in many denominations, abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent signifies something more signficant. Refraining from eating meat on Fridays allows us to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and how He saved us from sin. Whether you choose to eat fish on Fridays during Lent or every Friday of the year, this choice will sustain your spiritually and remind you of why Jesus deserves all praise.

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