Why Can Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
This article is about the traditional American dish of fried fish. For fish that have recently born, see Juvenile fish. San Diego-style fish and chips served with lemon, ketchup, cocktail sauce, and tartar sauce. A fish fry is a dish consisting of breaded or battered fried fish.
- In addition, it typically contains french fries, coleslaw, macaroni salad, lemon slices, tartar sauce, spicy sauce, malt vinegar, and dessert.
- In some Native American preparations, fish is coated with semolina and egg yolk.
- Fish is frequently served on Friday evenings during Lent, the Christian season of penance, as a restaurant special or as a church fundraiser.
If served in a German restaurant or location, a fish fry may include potato pancakes (accompanied by sour cream or applesauce) and sliced caraway rye bread. In the northern United States and Canada, a “beach lunch” is customary. Outdoor enthusiasts have cooked their fish on the beaches of their favorite lakes for decades.
On Friday, did Catholics eat fish?
Why must Catholics have fish on Fridays? Catholics and Protestants have asked me this question throughout the years, both while I was in seminary and now as a priest. Some are stunned by the response. The Church does not force Catholics to consume fish on Fridays.
- In the United States, however, Catholics older than 14 are compelled to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday throughout Lent.
- It would be a sin against God and His Church not to do so.
- Note that meat abstinence applies even outside of Lent.
- But on certain Fridays, we have the option to substitute another kind of penance.) Since it is customary to substitute fish for meat, some have argued that we are meant to consume fish.
Obviously, this is not the case. After I answered this question on one occasion, someone stated, “It’s simply another method for the Catholic Church to control people.” I have considered this remark about the Church and others like it for some time. In general, there are two groups of dissenters.
- Those in the first group may be uneducated through no fault of their own.
- They attempt to comprehend what the Church teaches and are receptive to explanations.
- Then there are the rebellious individuals.
- Even after receiving a sensible response, people continue to distrust authority.
- This naturally leads to disobedience towards Christ and His spouse, the Church.
Obviously, we all have varying degrees of the latter; it is known as sin. When God created humanity eons ago, He did it for His own glory. He had no need for us, yet He desired for us to experience His life, love, and joy. Prior to the Fall, our ancestors consistently put God first in their lives.
- They were filled with God’s characteristics of love and life when they said “yes” to God.
- Thus, they would naturally refuse the things that would destroy their relationship with God, i.e., love and life.
- As we know, this “yes” became a “no” when they ate the fruit of the tree.
- Since humanity’s fall from God’s favor, there has been a rebellion against God.
We have become disorganized and bewildered, sometimes settling for animals instead of the Creator. When the Son of God became apparent in the person of Jesus, He began to transform the “no” into a “yes” via the humbling example of His life, death, and resurrection.
By uniting with Christ and receiving the grace of the sacraments, we are once again able to reject the things that rob us of everlasting life and love. By choosing Jesus above everything else, we are re-admitted to the delight of paradise. Therefore, as Christian followers, we must repeatedly deny ourselves material and sensual goods in order to focus our attention on God, who is the love, life, and pleasure of Christians.
This is known as penance, of which abstention from meat is a subset. So, let’s return to the subject of Friday meat abstention. Why does the Church choose to abstain from meat on Fridays and why does it choose to do so? Meat is considered a food of the wealthy.
By abstaining from its enticing aroma and delectable flavor, Church members partake in a small measure of what Christ did. He entered humanity’s poverty so that our humanity might be conquered for God through a complete “yes” to Him. Likewise, we deny ourselves the riches of this world in order to conquer with Christ our fallen humanity and the devil who seeks our destruction.
Only by denying ourselves these ephemeral riches can we receive the riches of eternal life with God. How come Fridays? Friday has traditionally been a particular day for Christians to become impoverished with Christ. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross for our redemption on Good Friday.
- This day has historically served as a reminder for Christians to emulate Christ’s perfect “yes” to the Father.
- It is also a day for sharing Christ’s suffering for the sanctification of the Church.
- The Church, therefore, provides us this rule not to govern us but to warn us to separate ourselves from things that are passing away so that we can receive those things which are eternal—life, love, and the pleasure of God.
Any good and loving parent would require the same of their children, not to exert control, but out of love. Fr. Evinger is the parish priest of St. Joseph in Williston. If you have a question you’ve been hesitant to ask, now is the moment! Simply send an email to with “Question You Were Afraid to Ask” in the subject line.
United States – In 1966, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, which was updated somewhat in 1983. Current, generally recognized U.S. norms, in force for at least a decade, given directly from the current USCCB Fast and Abstinence website are as follows: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are required days for Catholics to fast and abstain.
In addition, Fridays throughout Lent are required abstinence days. From the age of 18 to 59, members of the Latin Catholic Church are required to adhere to the fasting regulations. A person who is fasting may consume one complete meal and two smaller meals that, when combined, do not equal a full meal.
Members of the Latin Catholic Church are required to abstain from meat beginning at 14 years of age. A overview of existing procedures:
- On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all other Fridays of Lent, those aged 14 and older are required to abstain from eating meat.
- On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 is required to fast, unless exempt for medical reasons.
In addition, the USCCB adds that those who are exempt from fasting and abstinence outside of the age limitations include the physically or psychologically sick, as well as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also excluded.
- In all circumstances, common sense should prevail, and ailing people should not fast further endangering their health.
- In the past, the USCCB said that “the age of fasting is from the end of the twenty-second year to the beginning of the sixty-first,” although the USCCB page referenced above also has a “Complementary Norm” that explains the lower minimum age of 18.
In conformity with canon 1253 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the USCCB has also permitted other forms of penance for the customary abstinence on all Fridays of the year, with the exception of those Fridays in Lent. Also, according to the USCCB, abstinence regulations assume that meat exclusively originates from land-dwelling animals such as poultry, cows, lambs, and pigs.
- Similarly, birds are considered meat.
- Abstinence does not include meat fluids and meat-based liquid meals.
- Thus, theoretically, foods such as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, and spices or condiments prepared from animal fat are not prohibited.
- However, moral theologians have historically maintained that all animal-derived items should be avoided (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste).
Fish are a distinct class of animal. It is permissible to possess saltwater and freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles (cold-blooded creatures), and shellfish. As a result, many Catholic churches in the United States host fish fries during Lent. In largely Catholic locations, restaurants may add fish products to their menus during Lent in an attempt to appeal to Catholics.
Are Catholics prohibited from eating meat on Fridays?
Today is Friday, yet Catholics are permitted to consume meat, with church approval. You may thank St. Joseph for that. Catholics are required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent until Easter (April 4). However, today is March 19, which is the church’s solemn celebration of Saint Joseph’s feast day.
- Today, according to church law — particularly canon law (1251), if you’re wondering – it is permissible to consume meat.
- Can.1251 On Fridays, abstinence from meat or another food approved by the Episcopal Conference must be observed, unless a solemnity falls on a Friday.
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are to be celebrated with abstinence and fasting.
The Archdiocese of Chicago verified through Twitter that Catholics in Lake and Cook counties may have meat today. Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the dependable protector selected to safeguard Mary and Jesus. Due to the fact that this solemnity comes on a Friday, the legislation requiring abstinence from meat and animal products does not apply on March 19 of this year (per Canon 1251).
Warm-blooded creatures – In a statement released earlier this month, the bishops stated that it was essential for Church members to participate in a unified, recognizable act of penance on Fridays because “the virtue of penitence is best gained as part of a shared commitment and common testimony.” Those who are unable or choose not to consume meat as part of their daily diet are advised to refrain from another food or activity.
Those who have moral or physical grounds to consume meat, such as those under the age of 14, the sick, old, pregnant women, sailors, and manual laborers, are exempt from abstaining from meat. The Catholic Church defines meat as the flesh of warm-blooded animals, hence fish consumption on Fridays is permissible.
The custom of fasting from meat on Fridays dates back centuries, although the Catholic Church in England and Wales permitted Catholics to substitute another form of penance in 1985. Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, stated that amendments to Canon Law in 1983 were viewed as an opportunity to examine the duty to abstain from eating meat on Fridays and determine whether its modification would be advantageous.