Stop criticizing fasting, please


My problem is every year I give up something, I never take it up again to give it up again in the future. Example, one year I gave up Starbucks for Lent, I don’t go to Starbucks any more because of that. List just about anything I gave up, 40 days of Lent broke the habit. This year I was stumped as to what to do, but this thread (and me being miserably hungry yesterday) gave me an idea. I am going to fast one day a week each week of Lent.

My idea is to fast on Saturday. I noticed yesterday, I really had a hard time working and concentrating (I was a little light headed but the main problem was I very hungry/distracted and a little “hangry” with customers and coworkers alike). So I don’t want to fast on a work day. The fasting did keep Lent on my mind though.

Saturday works best. I figure I will fast the same way we/I do on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday–just one meal, no snacks. But do you think it’s okay to allow meat and still call that a fast? The only problem with Saturday is I sometimes visit family or friends and have dinners with them and meat is definitely served. I could eat a modest dinner, but I think I would offend the host if I don’t eat a little of the main dish. And I don’t want to make a scene about me fasting. I rather keep it to myself.


Yes, certainly it is acceptable to eat meat as part of a fast. The Church makes a distinction, remember, between abstinence and fasting. Fasting is to do with quantity.

Also, your self denial must not offend anyone! If someone has prepared a meal for you, accept it gracefully, express appreciation, and above all, don’t make a ‘show’ of your self denial. We are specifically warned about that by Jesus himself.


That’s what I was thinking. Especially March 16 when my mom is having a big “Irish dinner” for the whole family. I won’t stand out if I just eat a modest amount of food (I am not a big eater anyway) but I would stand out if I didn’t eat “some” corned beef. It would start questions and digging for “why” and I was thinking of yesterday’s Gospel when deciding this.


I just wanted to share this regarding parish fish fries:
I went to the fish fry at my parish on Ash Wednesday and the portions were modestly distributed. Nobody was having a huge feast and it didn’t effect my fast. I had read some comments that folks were eating these huge portion meals at fish fries and it was bothering me. I am new at practicing the Catholic faith. If you criticize the practice of Catholics keep in mind some of us are new and have sensitive consciouses. We are all trying to help each other get to heaven.


Frank, I think maybe this is why priests often advise Catholics to just stay off CAF.

It can create worries about problems where none exist.

A couple of times I have personally asked priests about things I read on here which concerned me as I felt perhaps I had done something wrong. One priest told me I shouldn’t be bothering with the Internet and the other told me that people today really like to manufacture new mortal sins.

If you stay in the church long enough, you will likely hear a priest criticizing fish fries from the pulpit, too. I already have. The priest is recently come to USA from Africa and does not have the same childhood memories of awesome fellowship and great fish that I do. I am not sure if he still makes these criticisms because one of the two parishes where he serves has started doing a fish fry (they get the kids from the parish school to serve the food wearing funny fish hats, it’s cute). Just ignore this stuff, if you want to go to the fish fry at the church go, it’s benefiting the church.


I am the one who criticized fish fries. As I said, I am less concerned with a parish fundraiser, as it is am important way to raise funds and for fellowship.

My issue came from my time in the restaurant industry. Where I live, every bar, tavern and family restaurant offers a “Friday Fish Fry”, and not just during Lent, but all year.
A typical restaurant fish fry in my city would consist of the following:

14-16 oz piece of batter fried haddock
A large portion (1/2# at the restaurant I worked at)
A large portion of coleslaw
A house salad
Rolls & Butter
And sometimes dessert (again, at my restaurant, it was cheesecake)

And since it was a bar, dinner usually involved a cocktail or 3.

Again, what people do is their own business, but I fail to see how going out every Friday in Lent for this dinner is in the “spirit” of what the Church meant when it asked us to abstain from meat for Lent.


I live in South Carolina, very low population of Catholics but have seen ads for fish sandwiches at all the fast food places and for all you can eat fish/seafood Fridays, popping up at restaurants all over the place. I was surprised how much advertising I have seen this year.

We have “Fish camps” many of which are only open on weekends here as a customary thing year round, but the advertising at restaurants that don’t usually feature fish was surprising. And, as you pointed out, some of that is catering to the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

Lent is a thin disguise for an excuse to go to an all you can eat crab leg feast, and for most of us that would be a treat rather than a penance.

I have no opinion on Church fish fries, never attended. They seem like a nice thing, fellowship etc, and I know that often there is a service of some kind offered as well, but definitely the commercial enterprises out there are trying to tempt Catholics in with sumptuous feasts.


How many people have you seen doing that?


Interesting how much variability there is out there.

Our parish has 3 serial activities on Friday.

  1. Stations of the cross.
  2. Then go to the Parish hall for fish fry.
  3. After dinner, is Bingo.

The fish fry is a nice meal, certainly not gorge yourself… just a nice meal. It’s served by the youth group.

After most or all have finished eating, the Bingo games start. Overall, a pleasant way to gather and get to know your fellow parishioners.

Overall, maybe a bit of profit for the evening, but nothing substantial. Mostly fellowship.


I’m only remarking on the restaurants using Lent as a commercial opportunity, not on anyone’s personal eating habits.

Sorry if it sounded like I believed individuals were using Lent as an excuse, that wasn’t my intention.


It’s not really a commercial opportunity so much as supporting the local community!

My glass is ALWAYS half full, not half empty!


Yes, but the restaurants are kind of missing the point of Lent by using it to sell feasts rather than fish dinners.

When I was a kid, I felt guilty because Friday dinners, rather than being a penance, were the best of all. Either we’d have seafood or pizza.

Every Friday was meatless back then.

Just an observation, not a condemnation. If my mom had served beans or something, we’d have felt extremely penitant. Lol


When I worked in the restaurant industry, more than I could count. :expressionless:


Did people order fish when it wasn’t Friday?


Not “fish fries”. In my area, these are usually a “Friday only” type special.


How did you know they were Catholic?


Because I knew most of my customers because I grew up in the area.
There was also a Church right next door that has a daily 5:20pm Mass. When that Mass let out, they crossed the street and came to us for dinner.


That makes sense.


I want to make it very clear. I am not judging anyone or saying that anyone is doing anything wrong. I am merely relating my experience and sharing my stuggle with the particular practice.

I find it very difficult too see how a meal like the one I describe upthread is an acceptable Lenten “sacrifice” and eating a cold, leftover meatball sandwich at 10pm, after you have spent the whole day feeding other people is a hell-worthy trespass. :thinking::roll_eyes:


The key is in your last statement, that is, “hypocritical fasting.” If one fasts sincerely, it is commendable for sure; but hypocrisy is not to be admired. The same holds true for the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur: fasting which is not accompanied by sincere repentance or, worse still, for mundane reasons such as dieting or merely for show, is called a “hollow fast” and reveals a lack of piety.

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