The Lenten Fast vs. All-U-Can-Eat fish frys at your local parish or Knights of Columbus council

I’ve noticed some local Catholic parishes and K of C councils holding “All-U-Can-Eat” fish frys this year. One of them is even touting the availability of chicken and sausage! (They’re advertised in the diocesan paper.)

Have the current Lenten fast rules, which are incredibly relaxed, plus the profit motive of some parishes and K of C councils made the once-rigorous Lenten fast all but a joke?

Here are the current rules:

We are only required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The chicken and sausage thing isn’t right, but maybe it’s to pull in some non-Catholic participants.

I have some issues with the all-you-can-eat mentality, but it doesn’t have anything to do with a fast since one isn’t required outside of the days mentioned above.

Maybe they’re trying to offer something to people the rules do not apply to, like kids.

I think Nicole is right. There are only two fast days so an all-you-can-eat meal isn’t breaking the fast. I’d prefer to see it limited to non-meat dishes on a Friday. If you’re not having fish then maybe vegetable lasagna or some other meatless dish could be served.

The point of the OP is not that all-you-can-eat breaks the fast, because the OP recognizes that no fast is strictly required. Rather, the point is that advertising (might we say encouraging) and all-you-can-eat experience on a Friday runs directly counter to the penitential flavor Fridays are supposed to take on. This is much like the argument that was made against having mandatory abstinence on all Fridays of the year - people were just having elaborate or enormous seafood dinners and it wasn’t accomplishing its result. The difference is that the OP is saying the new fast/abstinence rules have not helped people to choose something meaningful; instead they have just made it easier to completely ignore the penitential spirit of the season, such that much like the communion “fast” there is ridiculously little meat (no pun intended, and not literally true) to the rules that now govern our Lenten mortification.

The *chicken and sausage *part is weird (I am presuming these events are taking place on Lenten Fridays). But the “All-U-Can-Eat”? While it is an odd advertisement, there is nothing really wrong with it.

My fasting is an act of submission of my will, not a function of the amount of food I have available to me. For instance: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I have much more (and more varieties of) food in my pantry than I am permitted to eat by law. Does that mean I am not fasting and abstaining? No, it means that I submit my will to the law of the Church, and I simply do not eat everything available.



I’m always a bit :confused: by the All-You-Can-Eat type fish frys because (for me) it’s not really a sacrifice to give up meat if I get to eat delicious shrimp, baked, broiled or fried fish, maccaroni and cheese, salad & warm from the oven bread rolls. Rather than it being any sort of pennance, it’s more like a “Oh yay! It’s fish fry night!”

So, rather than go every Friday, I’ve made the choice to only go one time in support of our parish because the funds earned go toward teen mission trips… I suppose if I wanted to totally follow my conscience, I would not go at all and just send in a check. OMGosh, those shrimp are good though… :o

Each of us is at a different place in our spiritual journey. While many who post here are serious about living every aspect of our faith, including a spirit of mortification on Fridays, especially the Fridays of Lent, others are stretched to the limit by abstaining at all. A fish fry at their parish may be just what they need to meet the requirements of the law, while they are still growing in faith. For those more advanced, as tee said in an earlier post, you can still go and support your parish activity without partaking of everything that is offered to eat.


I totally agree. I don’t have a problem with someone else going to a fish fry… I was speaking only for myself. Besides, at our fish frys there is great community & fellowship… something else that might be just the thing for others…

People may be interested in this article from USA Today titled “Fish fry tradition bolsters Catholic unity during Lent.”

Then I submit that the OP didn’t do a very good job of expressing that point. Using the phrase “Lenten Fast” implies more than fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

As I said in my post, all-you-can-eat fish fries don’t break any fasts because they don’t exist. If someone can direct me to some place in the Catechism or some other Church document that states my penance on Friday must have something to do with food, I will likely agree with what has been said.

However, my penance and the penance of others (who tell me what they do) has nothing to do with food. I also don’t believe that Lent means we have to run around not having any fun either.

As I said in my previous post, I don’t think all-you-can-eat is a great idea. It can be appealing to large families or families with teenage boys. Let me tell you, teenage boys can eat an enormous amount of food. Obviously, I don’t think that’s what these places have in mind, but it’s true nonetheless.

I just see so many people on this forum posting threads about how others aren’t doing this and that well enough. I have enough to do keeping myself in line. If a group of people want to have a fish fry, by all means, have a fish fry.

I do agree with the OP that having sausage and chicken at a Catholic gathering on Friday during Lent is just odd. I don’t believe that should be occurring at all.

I hope this gentleman was misquoted (or removed from plausible context) (emphasis added):

Abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent “is more of a choice now,” said Paul Grimm, a deacon at Saint Frances Cabrini.

“It was an absolute — ‘You’re going to do this or you’ll fry in hell.’ Now it’s very grass roots. It’s not so much a sacrifice as it is a reminder of who we are. And what Christ is.”


At my parish during Lent after the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, we have what is called a Meager Meal in the Parish Hall. Each parish ministry takes turns cooking several types of non-meat soups, and basically some bread. It will be my turn soon to make a lentil and vegetable soup. Others will provide the bread. For drinks we have coffee or water. The Stations of the Cross is bi-lingual and the meager meal is free. Those who go to the Stations of the Cross look forward to it. We have a wonderful Pastor. :slight_smile:

We also go only once, but that’s because the food is so mediocre.

Sounds yummy! Maybe I should convert back to Roman Catholic just for Great Lent! Sadly, as it is now, I’m only allowed to eat fish on the Annunciation and Palm Sunday.

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