The US Bishops have launched a multi-faceted initiative aimed at strengthening Catholic identity in the Country.
One can only look at such initiatives with favour, also because none of them appear to be of the unCatholic/populistic/controversial sort (like for example encouraging illegal immigration). Still, one cannot avoiding noticing that even when it would be easy to demand a certain behaviour (= meatless Friday) the US Bishops stop short of doing it and prefer to remain by the “encouragement”.
Meatless Friday is a traditional Catholic penance; it is nothing earth-shattering, or extravagant; it has been already reintroduced in other Countries, like the United Kingdom.
Past generations well knew that these little but constant reminders not only of Christ's sacrifice for us, but of our Catholic identity and culture do help, in time, to properly shape a man. Past generations, who did not have fridges or freezers, were asked to conform themselves to such small rules. It is not clear to me why it should be too much to ask that modern US-Americans do the same rather than merely encourage them to do so.
If the clergy of one country thinks even such small obligations are too much to ask, how can they I do not say demand, but even make their faithfuls aware of grave problems like politicians aiding and abetting abortion, sodomy, one day euthanasia? If one refuses to obey in the small things, how will he obey in the bigger ones?
I hope the US bishops will soon see the logic of this reasoning, and start the long work of reshaping Catholic identity by demanding that their faithful live by rules – starting from the small ones – that have served past generations so well.
Bring back the meatless Friday. Remind people every week of what they are, and what they stand for.
For all of us living in the UK< today is a rather historical day, as for the first time in ages the obligation to make penance on Friday by abstaining from meat is reintroduced.
The importance of this goes, if you ask me, beyond the mere fact, and extends to the clear signal (eve here in the UK) to recover traditional Catholic practice. The recovery of the practice will, in time, give a great contribution to the recovery of the values.
We have seen it happening the other way round decades ago, when the immense patrimony of Catholic devotions and usages was suddenly discarded as old, not in keeping with the time and, in a world, unpleasant for a Church desperately – and disgracefully – seeking for popularity.
Today, here in the UK – and, no doubt, in many other Countries in the years to come – a public, if not explicit, admission of the mistake of following the trend of the times takes place.
Every Catholic should rejoice at the possibility he is given to feel more catholic in his daily life, and to be able to make use of small but constant reminders of the religious dimension his life is called – wretched sinners as we all are – to have.
I’ll have a Potato and Leak soup accompanied by a small salad with some feta cheese, and a mozzarella with some little bread. Meatless Friday doesn’t mean joyless eating, it means that once a week you remember He Who died for you, and give him a little tribute of gratitude. In these little things lies, if you ask me, one of the great strengths of Catholicism; the Hail Mary, the Rosary, the sign of the cross when walking past a church, the small prayer when walking past someone with a disability, and many other little gestures keep us anchored in our real dimension in the middle of the hustle and bustle of our daily life.
Say hello to your soup; the meat will be able to wait until tomorrow and, for sure, no one will die of meat abstinence in the meantime.