Friday, April 24, 2009

Bishops with Backbones

I am not in the habit of blogging on current events. I barely have time to follow them and am usually a few days behind, but the decision by the Bishop of Steubenville to invite his flock to resume the practice of Friday abstinence from meat (outside of Lent) has me enamored! He had his letter read after all of the Sunday Masses in his diocese a few weeks ago, during Lent.

Now, here is what my husband and I refer to as a "Bishop with a Backbone!" I love that the Diocese of Steubenville has actually posted catechetical materials to go along with this invitation. The lessons they have prepared are practical and meaningful. Be sure to check them out! I especially appreciate that Bishop Conlon has tied the practice of abstinence to prayer for the protection of life!

The Catholic Church never completely did away from Friday abstinence; she merely instructed the faithful that it may be substituted by a different but comparable type of fasting. I will freely admit that I was never taught such doctrine, despite five and a half years of Catholic elementary school and three and a half years of CCD. I was always taught to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, period. Only during college was I introduced to the concept of voluntarily abstaining outside of Lent.

(What can you expect from a CCD program which taught teenagers that a sin is only a sin if you think it is a sin? I still have flashbacks to that classroom and the completely dumbfounded feeling I had listening to my teachers during that lesson.)

We have gone back and forth on abstaining from meat on the Fridays outside of Lent in our family, but I am convicted in a new way to obligate myself to this practice. My only question/concern is then, how does that make the Fridays in Lent any different from the rest of the year? Are they supposed to be different? If so, how can I make them distinct? Send me some comments if you have some answers, please!

Kudos to Bishop Conlon for making our "Bishops with Backbones" list!

1 comment:

Jennie said...

In the past people used to fast on Fridays during Lent, instead of just abstaining. This isn't necessarily possible for moms with small children who need energy, but one thing I've tried to do is make Friday dinners in Lent a little less "tasty" than Fridays during the rest of the year. This isn't always an option with picky toddlers, but for older kids it might work. I really like fish, so lentil and rice casserole is much more of a penitential meal than salmon filets. Cutting out dessert or fruit on Lenten Fridays and not eating between meals are other ways to set them apart from other Fridays of the year. Making an effort during Lent to keep in mind just why one is abstaining could also be a fruitful exercise. You don't necessarily have to do something different, just meditate on the reason why you're doing it.