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:

We will try therefore to concentrate not only on the practice of abstention from food or from drink— that, in fact, is the meaning of “fasting” in the common sense — but on the deeper meaning of this practice which, moreover, can and must sometimes be “replaced” by another one. Food and drink are indispensable for man to live, he uses them and must use them, but he may not abuse them in any way. The traditional abstention from food and drink has as its purpose to introduce into man’s existence not only the necessary balance, but also detachment from what might be defined a “consumer attitude”.

Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 21 March 1997

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:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Thinking about the sacrifice that Jesus made for you:

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