Hey Heidi: Why do Catholics give up meat on Fridays, but fish is okay?

ST. LOUIS - It happens almost every Friday during lent. Long lines form with anxious anticipation of sticking a fork into whatever fish is being served and considering there are more than 50 fish fries in and around St. Louis the options are plentiful and make you pause to ponder the choices. But all of this has a deeper meaning for Catholics.

"You know Friday for Catholics is the day we remember Jesus' suffering and death so as we remember Jesus' sacrifice we're called to make some sacrifice as well," explains Fr. John Vien, Pastor of St. Pius V.

Traditionally meat was more of a luxury so giving it up was a bit of a sacrifice.

"So we still remember that even though in our day and age people are going out for fish dinners and fish fries it might not seem like a sacrifice, but it is a reminder of what Jesus did for us and we're called to do some kind of sacrifice to imitate him," Fr. Vien goes on to say.

Which means going out and ordering lobster probably isn't what the Catholic Church has in mind.

"You know everybody can make their own sacrifice and if they're going out for a big fish dinner maybe they want to substitute some other sacrifice do a kind work of mercy, be kind to somebody, give a kind word, give up something else they might enjoy," Fr. Vien adds.

And here's one more thing to chew on Pope Paul VI used the word carnis to indicate the type of food Catholics are to abstain from. In English, "meat" can refer to any flesh, but in Latin that refers to mammals and birds, so fish were not considered to be the same.

The idea is to sacrifice and reflect. Toss in a little fellowship at a fish fry, and that's just icing on the cake.


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