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Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

If we can eat the meat of fish on Fridays, why not chicken? What about eggs? (They’re not meat, but they are chicken.)

April 10, 2014 at 11:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

        Our question this week comes – if not from 1st graders – from someone inspired by 1st graders. It was submitted to me verbally on Ash Wednesday, and if I’ve failed to re-pose the question verbatim, I hope that I’ve at least preserved the essence of the query here. It’s a timely (Lenten) question; it’s a 1st grader question; and therefore it’s a very good question. I’ll strive to match it with my response here.

          To begin, let’s look at why we abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Jesus sacrificed (gave up) His own flesh on the Cross on Good Friday. His sacrifice has forever changed the significance of Fridays for Catholics. Fridays are now days of penance – in fact, unless you choose to substitute another penance, you and I are still obliged to abstain from eating flesh (meat) on all Fridays (not only during Lent).

          Now, the Latin word for flesh (carnis) refers to the flesh/meat of warm-blooded land animals (i.e. birds and most mammals), and this is what we abstain from on Fridays because it most closely resembles the flesh (carnis) that Jesus gave up at His Crucifixion. That’s why we don’t eat meat (including chicken) on Fridays (especially during Lent). The flesh of fish and most other sea creatures – being different from that of mammals and birds – has not traditionally been forbidden on Fridays. The same is true of eggs, milk, and other animal products that can be eaten. These do not bear the same resemblance to Jesus’ flesh as red meat does.

          That’s not to say that we must eat fish on Fridays, but rather that fish is permitted to be on the menu. I know of some people who will only eat vegetarian fare on Fridays, as a way of observing the Friday abstinence. But, since fish is allowed on Fridays, it has become a tradition in many places. The penance comes primarily by reminding ourselves that Jesus gave up His flesh on a Friday, so we too ought to give up eating flesh on Fridays. In this, we restrict our choices at least a little more than usual.

          If it helps, you can picture the cows saying, “Eat more chickin!” And the Chickens saying, “Eat more fish!” And all the fish can say is, “O. O. O. O…”

          Thanks for such a wonderful question! As always, if you have another way of looking at this or other questions of our Faith, please sign on to our website (www.stanthonyniagara.org), and post your own question or response in the Forums section under “Ask Father”.



Fr. Matt

April 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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