Abstaining from Meat

Abstaining from Meat

On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent, Catholics 14 years of age and older are required to abstain from eating meat.

Unlike fasting, which is eating less food, abstaining means avoiding certain foods.

Fridays during Lent and every week of the year recall Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross on Good Friday. By abstaining from meat and performing other Lenten practices, Catholics join themselves to his suffering.

Meat is good and necessary. By not eating it, man shows that he can do without it because he is more dependent on God.

Abstaining from meat is intended to be a sacrifice so substituting the meat of mammals and birds with other delicacies that may be even more desirable misses the point. 

A Catholic farewell to meat:

Abstinence is a form of denying yourself of something:

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

Daniel 10: 2-3

Catholics give up meat on the day Jesus gave up his life:

Friday is a day of preparation for Sunday and Jesus’ Resurrection:

The flesh of mammals and birds has been associated with celebration:

The necessity of the mortification of the flesh also stands clearly revealed if we consider the fragility of our nature, in which, since Adam’s sin, flesh and spirit have contrasting desires. This exercise of bodily mortification-far removed from any form of stoicism does not imply a condemnation of the flesh which sons of God deign to assume. On the contrary, mortification aims at the “liberation” of man, who often finds himself, because of concupiscence, almost chained by his own senses. Through “corporal fasting” man regains strength and the “wound inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance is cured by the medicine of a salutary abstinence.”

Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini, 17 February 1966

The Church used to require meatless Fridays every week:

The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2043

The Church’s law regarding abstinence is a serious matter:

Friday meals during Lent should be simple:

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