Fasting and eating only fish on Friday during Lent

I have friends that dont understand this tradtion we Catholics practice. Am I right to say that this is to help us to remember the things that Jesus did for us? I always thought it was something to help us examine ourselves and to help us think more about the acts of Jesus. I always get the response that it does not matter what “man tradtion” we practice cause Jesus sees out hearts. And these “man traditions” are to look good for other men and to boast in our religion.

Any thoughts? Is my reasoning right? Any help to further explain?


The reason we fast and abstain from meat during Lent is that it is a season of penitence. Both fasting and abstention are sacrifices, which – like any other sacrifice – can be offered up as penance for our sins and those of others. Because Lent is the season in which we do the most penance, we abstain from meat on Fridays (although the rest of the Catholic world still does that year round) and we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

We are also to, as you point out, examine our lives and renew the effort to live according to Christ’s will; penance is a necessary part of that process, however.

With regards to people who denigrate what they deem to be man-made traditions: they are wrong to assume that our Lenten sacrifices and penance are done to make us “look good”. Having pleasant thoughts for someone in your “heart” is not enough; truly to love is to sacrifice for the benefit of others.


Found this on that Catholic Answers the Rock- not sure how it fits in but wanted to throw it out there:

The purpose of the proposal to return to meatless Fridays is to do so as an act of penance for having allowed the culture of death to take over America, where between one and two million children are killed every year by abortion, where violence on the streets is rampant, and where we are on the verge of legalizing euthanasia.

The purpose of the restoration of the discipline would be to do penance in hopes that God will help us change our society and push back the culture of death. It also will serve to raise people’s consciousness about the need to combat the culture of death rather than sitting back and doing nothing.

You are obviously in favor of helping people, and the goal of the restoration would be to help people by working to turn America back to the culture of life, where people are cherished and protected instead of callously killed whenever they are “inconvenient.”

We should avoid being guilty of chronological snobbery in viewing the present as automatically superior to the past. We should have no fear of “retreating into the past” with our practices if doing so would help solve problems in the present.

Sociological studies have shown that the fewer demands a church makes of its members, the weaker their faith becomes, and eventually they end up doing nothing. Right now, the Church in America expects almost nothing of its members, and there has been a corresponding decline in activity on the part of the laity. If we want to see the homeless and shut-ins helped, nothing will do that better than helping Catholics builds their devotional lives, such as reawakening them to the fact that Friday is a day of penance (something which is true even now; the form of penance to be done being up to the individual).

Fasting and abstinence was done by Christ Himself in doing so we follow his example, Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert as was recalled recently during the readings at mass why do these acquittances not do as Christ did but instead spend their time condemning those who do?

Do they not know that it is written in the scriptures that the evil ones can only be overcome by fasting according to the words of Christ. So if they follow Christ why do they ignore His teachings?

Their response to fasting and that of the world proves the lie of us doing it to look good, no one is impressed by fasting on the contrary they hate you for it, if we wanted to look good we would tell everyone about how loving and welcoming we are and how Jesus sees our hearts so don’t worry about doing evil.

And while we are at it who gave them the authority to teach.

As John the Baptist says in the gospel of John:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

So during this time we make a special effort to indulge less of ourselves so that Christ will become a larger part of our life.

And the fasting helps us do this!:smiley:

Jesus told us that we would face adversity when we follow Him. It’s not the easiest of paths, as I’m also learning. Don’t let anyone distract you from honoring Jesus. We only have to answer to one person at the end, and it won’t be any of those that ridicule you for practicing your faith. Carry your cross and keep persevering!

Here is some good information from St. Thomas Aquinas himself on the answer to your question. While you’re at it, look at the link at the end of the article on the significance of the 153 fish in the Gospel of John, chapter 21.

ask them what man made tradition Jesus was following when he went out in the desert and fasted for 40 days


It is an interesting fact that almost without exceptions most of the major world religions espouse fasting at certain times. That includes also many of the pre-Christian and non-European religions. It would seem almost that it was a thing embedded in human nature.:slight_smile:

I have a bit of a problem with the way the thread title is worded. I’m sure it was unintentional, but the title is ambiguous.

The part I have trouble with is “eating only fish” which implies that is all we eat. In case anybody is interpreting it that way, I should point out that we can eat anything we want so long as it is not a land animal. We can eat eggs, cheese, peanut butter, vegetarian pizza, and so forth.

The reason I am pointing this out is that I once met a Protestant who told me, “I could never be Catholic. You have to eat fish on Fridays, and I don’t like fish.”

So, just in case there is anybody who thinks we have to eat fish on Fridays during Lent, we don’t! :slight_smile:

Although it does bring up a good question, Kay Cee… why DO we tend to eat fish on Fridays, or at least how did the emphasis as fish as a replacement for meat come about?

Mammal meat, in the ancient world, was a symbol of worldliness.

Fish are a symbol of Christ and Christians, and therefore not worldly. :slight_smile:

Over on the Eastern rites’ side, people also abstain from dairy (don’t know if the symbolism’s the same as meat) and oil and wine (symbols of joy, I think) on certain days. But I don’t know about all that enough to comment.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but legalized euthanasia is here, in the United States. Oregon legalized it a few years ago.

It’s a horrible law and I’m not sure how it got passed. It took me by surprise.

So far I haven’t seen any evidence of public outcry over this law.

So, it is happening right now. :frowning:

*Ave Maria! Gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus
ventris tui, Iesus.

Sancta Maria! Mater Dei, ora pro nobis
peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.


Just to clarify, the law is assisted suicide, not euthanasia. Still bad, but there is a difference. A similar law was just passed in Washington. And Montana is trying to get it too.

Thank you, I thought it was euthanasia. I’ve only heard about it using that term. I haven’t looked it up, as I uh, really don’t even want to think about it. And Washington, too, and Montana (maybe)? What is this, some sort of evil that has been spawned in the Pacific Northwest and is moving east?

I’m glad I’m moving out of Oregon, but they’ll probably have it in Arizona, too. :frowning:

Ave Maria! Ora pro nobis.

Here is a link that will help:

I apologize - I should have written more clearly - I have no doubt that we are a society that lives in a culture of death between assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion. Not too mention school shootings and other needless violence. I did not mean how it fits in here morally - but how the tidbit of information fits into the thread. Sorry again.

So, my Protestant husband had a discussion about this topic last Friday. He doesn’t care for what he considers practices that the Church requires that people just do because they are told to with little understanding as to why.
I was fixing fish and he said to make sure it wasn’t seasoned. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a real sacrifice. The week before I made tuna helper(I don’t care for tuna):rolleyes:
In our discussion we talked about a) who decided that fish would be the sacrifice? b) why? c) do people really understand what they are doing? I was really not sure how to answer these questions. If we are really to be sacrificing should we have something we enjoy eating? If we enjoy fish/seafood are we in keeping with the spirit of the practice of abstinence?

Blessings to all,

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