Meatless Fridays a Sacrifice?

Dear Fr. Phil:

Although I certainly agree that most of us would be better off with more rather than less self-denial, I question the basic assumption inherent in this proposal(Meatless Fridays); namely, that meat is somehow "better" than fish and that consuming fish (or other non-meat items) is a hardship. That may have been true 30 years ago (remember Mrs. Paul's fishsticks?) but it simply isn't true today. Good fresh seafood is more expensive than meat and, in my humble opinion, tastes much better. How can it be viewed as a sacrifice? Have the persons and organizations supporting this proposal given any thought to this point?

I have a better proposal. How about abstaining from alcohol on Fridays? That would be a REAL hardship (especially for my Irish family) and would have even more beneficial effects for society at large.

All kidding aside, I am really interested in your thoughts on fish as a sacrifice. You almost have me convinced on the male priesthood issue, so you must have great persuasive powers!



Dear Eileen,

Thanks for the e-mail. I agree w/ your point. Especially here in the Northwest to choose fish over meat wouldn't be any particular sacrifice. More a reminder.

However, in some circumstances it could be a real sacrifice. This Lent I was approached by a couple who was invited to a banquet on Friday. They wanted a "dispensation" to eat meat, even said they would abstain several other days. My response was that the real sacrifice would be the humility to witness to their faith, by saying "we are Catholic and during Lent... Could you please pass the potatoes?" It would be a small but communitarian way of acknowledging who is in control of our lives.

About abstaining from alcohol. From what I have seen in my years as a priest, the Irish (and a lot of other groups) would be better off abstaining every day :-)

God bless,

Fr. Phil