My Reckless Experiment with Fridays

Fish for Dinner?

Meatless Fridays and Catholics

I didn’t intend to go meatless on Fridays. It all started because of something our priest said many years ago and then repeated, in various contexts, so that I could no longer ignore it.

“The bishops never intended us to stop Friday penance,” he said, in some version or another. “They gave us the latitude to choose a penance that’s appropriate, since not all of us think lobster is a hardship.”

A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at a Friday penance. I didn’t think I could handle going meatless, honestly, as I thought it would call too much attention to myself. I gave up sweets and sweet things, instead.

When someone would offer me dessert, I’d decline (when I remembered, that is). Where I would usually add sugar to my tea, I would not.

The hassle in this became obvious when my husband pointed out that it was a little rude of me at times.

“Rude? But it’s the CHURCH’S TEACHING!” With a look that never fails to be patient and disbelieving at the same time, he told me all I needed to hear.

Giving up sweets wasn’t cutting it for Fridays. Every week, I nearly forgot, or I’d be into my second spoonful of something sweet before wondering if I was breaking my penance. “Yogurt’s not sweet, right? It’s breakfast. And what about…”

About six or seven months ago, I decided, just for hoots and hollers, to try going meatless for a Friday. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, despite my deep-seated love for all things related to eating red meat.

I tried it again the next week. Now, eight weeks later, I’m meatless on Fridays.

In fact, I have found it easier than my other attempts to observe a Friday penance. Maybe it’s more clear-cut, or maybe it’s more natural. Maybe there’s a reason the UK’s bishops decided to reinstate it as the norm for Friday penance.

In going meatless, I have a little reminder of Lent throughout the year. I need that reminder of the Passion, of what Friday’s really for. It’s not just the end of the week or the beginning of the weekend.

When I say TGIF, being meatless is a day-long reminder that I’m thanking God for something more than just the days off ahead of me. For me, this is one more way my Catholic faith is tangible, touchable, and impacting more than just my Sundays.


Sarah Reinhard loves being a Catholic wife and mom. She’s been happily married for eight years and counting, and she and her husband have three children. She has authored a number of books and writes pretty frequently at her blog.

Visit Sarah’s blog: http://SnoringScholar.com/

Check out her books: http://SnoringScholar.com/my-books/

Sarah is on Twitter.



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1 Comment

  1. In my family, we never ate meat on Friday. That’s how I was brought up and I never had any problems with it. I stopped eating red meat altogether about 10 years ago, and now I don’t even have to think about this kind of fast. I try to do other things instead. Though, giving up chocolate is an issue. 🙂 I’m doing it again this Lent and already yesterday I was tempted to buy something sweet.

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