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Why am I resisting meat-free Fridays?

I can’t quite put my finger on why the announcement by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales that we should re-start observing abstinence on a Friday and not eat meat has made me a little uneasy.

I’m a fairly secular Catholic and, after a bit of a wobble at University, have found a way to mesh my faith with my life.  It may not be ideal.  It may not always reflect the absolute line of canon law but I have reconciled a modern life with a faith that is often very old fashioned.

Hearing in mass last Sunday that we are now expected to not eat meat on a Friday pushed me off balance.  It’s not that it will be particularly difficult to achieve – fish and chips still being a Friday staple driven by the requirement being in place when I was a child.  And we have been told that we should be sensible about it.

And yet it does rather feel as if the Church is pushing itself into my life a bit further.  Our priest fully admitted that this was intended to remind us about faith and the church during the week.  It coincides with a change to the words of the mass – a change that gets rid of the familiar words and phrases that have been there all my life.

Yet the change to the words of the mass I find easier to cope with.  Having taken a Latin A-level I like that the wording is more similar to the original Latin mass – I’ve been known to go to the occasional Latin mass, it is beautiful, profound and very different from a hurried English one where I invariably end up wrestling with two small children as I bribe them with piles of breadsticks to at least keep reasonably quiet.

So why does this ruling make me feel uncomfortable? 

It could have something to do with the inevitable comments from my atheist husband about rule books.  It could have something to do with me not wanting the church to push more into my life.  It could be something to do with it feeling like a step back into the past.  It could even have something to do with Friday being our usual take out night and not wanting to have to think about options that aren’t the usual dish that I order.

Being a Catholic I shall now find myself feeling guilty when I fail to meet this new target and yet slightly resentful that I have another thing heaped on my plate to make me feel guilty about if I don’t manage to live up to another set of external expectations about how ‘good’ looks.

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14 comments to Why am I resisting meat-free Fridays?

  • I’m not very religious as my parents are of different faiths and religion wasn’t something integrated strongly into my life growing up. So perhaps I am not best placed to comment. But I can’t feel that religion and faith in general are meant to give us a moral grounding without imposing too many rules and in turn guilt for not meeting them.

  • I was brought up strict Catholic but I’ve struggled with religion in my adult life as my parents have been known to put their religion before their children, but that’s another issue. Reading your post I can give you a definite answer to your question but it makes me uncomfortable too. I think the words guilt and rules jump off the page in this post. I think religion can give people guidance as to how to live their life, if it’s something that interests them, but telling you want to eat or not eat in today’s modern life, seems an intrusion too far, and as you say, a step back into the past.

  • As a fellow Catholic who has struggled to reconcile both faith with lifestyle, I really understand the dilemma. My problem with being a Catholic is that is it not progressive and not taking into account modern lifestyles, which in turn fuels the Catholic guilt.

    When I was small we always abstained from eating meat on a Friday and I have happy memories of Mum buying, filleting and cooking fish every week. It seemed like a treat for us and my love of fish has remained, however I’m not sure I want to do the same. As your husband says, it’s the rules that are off-putting.

    I think there are far more important things to being a good Christian than not eating meat on a Friday, and I wish there was more emphasis on achieving the faith/life balance instead of these anachronistic rules.

    • That’s exactly my issue with the Church at the moment – I want to balance it all but I need them to understand the realities of my daily life

      Yes the treat of fish and chips on a Friday is lovely but I like Thai food and that’s our treat and that’ll be harder to do now

      Makes it hard to work out what to tell the girls and how to show them the liberal path whilst not saying too many wrong things

  • Valerie

    We have meat free Fridays, actually we call it Fish Friday in this house lol. If you try and be nostalgic about it you may get over it. I remember at school and the smell of the polished floors and lovely new stationary and Fish Friday and it makes me smile. My husband thinks I am bonkers, but I do the cooking so he goes along with it.

    • Ah you see Friday has historically been my night off and we get Thai take away – yes I can make it work but I’m not sure I want to

      Admittedly I’m being a touch petulant but at the end of a week the last thing I really want is to have to fret over what I’m eating

  • As a Catholic child , flying by Aer Lingus to Ireland and Granny , I always seemed to go on a Friday and be sitting between two nuns .
    And the inflight snack ( remember those?) always consisted of ham sandwiches and I’d sit looking longingly at them .
    Luckily one or other nun would assure me that the rule could be ignored by travellers …. before tucking in herself .
    As for the reintroduction of the requirement ? It makes absolutely no difference to God at all what you eat on a certain day of the week . I think He’s got other things on His mind .

  • I was raised a Catholic but I’m best described as very lapsed. I don’t give anything for rules and I’m very critical of quite a lot of things connected with the Catholic church (while I also appreciate what faith and ethical thinking have done for me on the plus side). I do like the fishy Fridays though, it reminds me of my childhood, I love fish and I’m a fishytarian. It’s good not to eat meat all the time for many reasons, so it’s got my thumbs up. Fridays or Mondays though, does it really matter which day as long as the thought is there?

    • I’ve sort of held onto trying to do fish Fridays but it’s just having it thrust down my throat – I thought I’d got to a place where I had balanced liberal and Catholic but it appears not… quite sad making

  • Tattieweasle

    Do you have to eat fish or is it an abstention from meat? If it does mean no meat go italian and have pizza like we do and have fingers Friday whereby I don’t even have to do washing up! Great!

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