No-Meat Fridays

On Fridays during Lent, we abstain from meat. It’s one of those things that Catholics seem to be known for (Friday night Fish Fry!). But, why?

We abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent in commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion as He was crucified on Friday. But, why this particular practice? Here are a couple of reasons:

  1. Christ gave his flesh for our salvation, so we abstain from flesh in commemoration –Christ become incarnate in flesh and blood, so that He could give his life for us, that He could die for us. Thus, we commemorate His sacrifice of death in flesh in blood by abstaining from the flesh of animals. It’s a tangible act of self-denial that is a sharp reminder that Christ offered Himself out of love for us.

  1. Meat is a “Festive Food” – Historically, meat has been considered a “festive” food reserved for celebratory occasions. We think of the story of the prodigal son that Jesus tells in the Gospels where the father commands to “slaughter the fattened calf” in celebration of his son’s return. Or we may think of scenes in books or movies, where in the great festivals of great kings they will have the roasted pig with the apple in its mouth, or some other roasted animal as the centerpiece of the feast.

Nowadays, with modern science, meat has become much more commonplace and available to us, so we don’t always think of it as much as a “special” thing. We can buy lunchmeats at a reasonable price; it’s much easier to store meat in freezers, etc. However, we do still retain a sense of meat being for celebratory occasions with our Thanksgiving Turkeys, our Christmas hams, or our grill outs with friends for special occasions. (Fourth of July, Tailgates, etc.)

While the Church only mandates abstaining from meat on Fridays DURING Lent, the Church still asks us to do some sort of “penitential practice” or “penance” on EVERY Friday of the year, commemorating it each week as the day of Christ’s Crucifixion – of which abstinence from meat is still an encouraged option.

So, on Friday, as you prepare and eat your fish or whatever non-meat option you choose, be sure that as you do so, take a moment to remember Christ’s sacrifice for you, a moment of prayer thanking Him for this.


– Fr. Kevin