It's Holy Week and it's already a runaround heresy that Roman Catholics should avoid eating meat during Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Some even think that Roman Catholics should avoid meat for all 40 days of Lent though the actual teaching says it's only for Ash Wednesday and Fridays of Lent.
In due fairness some Roman Catholics actually actually give a little more valid reason to avoid eating meat during Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent as written by a Catholic priest named Mike Schmit saind in his article "Why Don't Catholics Eat Meat During Lent":
More to the point, meat was singled out because it is associated with celebrations and feasts. I understand that there has been a slight cultural shift in the last number of years with more and more people eating a more vegetarian diet, but most of us still base the food we eat during celebrations around a meat entrée (Thanksgiving turkey, Easter ham, Fourth of July brat, burger and a steak). A day devoted to remembering Christ’s Passion doesn’t seem like a day to feast. Interestingly enough, the day we celebrate the Resurrection is a day for feasting (and we get one of those every single week: Sunday).
On top of all of that, meat has often been a luxury in many cultures. People didn’t always have a McDonald’s Dollar Menu, and meat cost a bit more. Maintaining a spirit of simplicity, people turned to other, less expensive fare. But what’s included when we are asked to abstain from meat? Well, throughout the 2,000 year history of the Church, there have been varying definitions over what exactly constitutes abstinence from meat. In some regions of the world, Catholics abstained from all forms of meat and all animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish.
The brilliant thing in all of this is that this is simply a discipline of the Church. It can change. And it has changed. In a 1966 document, “Apostolic Constitution on Penance”, Pope Paul VI reorganized and clarified the Church’s practice. He determined that abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat. Moral theologians have taken varying sides on this, but it seems that gravies, broths, and soups cooked or flavored with meat are permissible. It would seem a bit “off” to me to take this so far as to serve beef barley soup at the Lenten Soup Suppers, but one rule of thumb could be “if you can drink it through a straw, you’ve got nothing to worry about”. (You may be completely missing the point as you sip on your pepperoni milkshake, but I guess that’s why we have a distinction between the spirit and the letter of the law.)
But there's the problem of who I'd call as extremely rabid Roman Catholics. They would go as far as to even defy the actual teaching that says that those who are sick may eat meat are not to be exempted. To verify, eating of meat has been considered a mortal son according to John Trigilio:
MORTAL SIN requires a conscious, deliberate and free act of the will. Someone who crassly eats meat on days of abstinence thinking that the Church has no authority or no business telling him/her what to eat or not eat, then they are committing mortal sin. If someone just doesn't care and has no desire to obey church law, then they are guilty of mortal sin.
That's legalism pure and simple. If the doctor tells you that you shouldn't eat meat for health reasons then that's something Christians should do. It's no surprise that the habit of fasting from meat during Lent is definitely out of context. From the same article by Schmit he also said in an earlier paragraph:
There are documents that indicate that meat was singled out as being a food Christians occasionally abstained from since the first century. This has nothing to do with the Catholic Church “requiring abstinence from foods” that St. Paul talks about in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:3). In that letter, St. Paul is referring to the practice of maintaining Jewish dietary laws. The foods prohibited by God in the Old Testament were declared “unclean” and this is why they were forbidden. The Catholic Church’s practice of occasionally not eating meat has nothing to do with this perspective. It is precisely because meat is so good that we are asked to give it up at certain times. It wouldn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense if we offered something we considered bad as a sacrifice to God.
The problem is that Schmit himself is again missing the point. If he tried to read it he should realizing that requiring Roman Catholics to abstain from meat on certain times is no different from forcing Christians to follow Jewish dietary laws. It's no less satanic than the Seventh Day Adventist movements dietary laws. Here's what the Bible says about that which I'll quote from the Good News Version for my Roman Catholic readers:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Some Roman Catholics love to avoid meat during Lent but live very wicked lives for the rest of the year. On the other hand true Christians eat meat during Lent (except for cases where they need to abstain from it for health reasons) and live righteously and soberly in this world gone mad. In the end all this legalism ends up encouraging sinful living. After all, don't such people think that as long as they keep Lent, confess their sins to the priest, be religious and obey the priests and the Pope that they'll be fine regardless of how their living?
- Abstinence From Meat is NOT Fasting
- Do Roman Catholics Really Understand True Repentance?
- Lent is More of a Season of Hypocrisy for Many Roman Catholics
- The Hypocrisy of Roman Catholic "Fasting" During Lent
- The Incredible Irony Behind Religious Roman Catholics and Their Sinful Lifestyles!
- Why Do Many in the Works Salvation Crowd Fall into Sinful Lifestyles?