Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lent: Why do Catholics Eat Fish on Fridays?

    Being a Catholic, myself, I have been asked this question many times.  I have never went into as much detail explaining it as I am today though.
 
   Let's start of with the definition of Lent.  

   Lent is the season of approximately 40 days set aside by the Church in order for the faithful to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.  It is to enable us to make a small sacrifice for the incredible sacrifice He made for our salvation.  Church members prepare for Easter by a recalling of Baptism and penance, that is, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.(assist the needy)

     Why forty days?   Jesus fasted for 40 days, Noah was in the Ark for 40 days, Moses received the ten commandments for 40 days and the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years.   Think about it also, that a woman carries her child in her womb for how long?  40 weeks!  So, it seems that the number forty has a certain prelude for something better to come. 


     It kick starts with Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth.  The ashes are made by burning the previous year's blessed palms.  We remember this when we are told, 
          "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return."


     For the next forty days, those willing, submit to fasting and self-denial in imitation of Our Lord’s forty-day fast in the desert and it ends with Passion Sunday.  

You may hear the question, "What did you give up for Lent?"  We give up something we really enjoy, maybe foods, social media or promise to do something special for others during those six weeks.

     Friday is a day of abstinence from meat for Catholics in order to remind us that we all sin and this little sacrifice is a show of repentance and satisfaction for our sins.  Why, is fish allowed? The drawing of a symbolic fish in the dirt was a way that the early Christians knew each other when it was dangerous to admit in public that one was Christian. Our Lord cooked fish for His Apostles after His Resurrection, and most of these men were fishermen. After He established His Church, these fishermen became “fishers of men” for the Kingdom of God.  Hence, the little fish symbol some have on the back of their cars, with the name Jesus in the center of it.  



     For those who don't participate in Lent, don't tell me that you don't love those Friday night church fish dinners!  All Catholics, age 14 and older participate. (certain situations are forgiven)    Now we all have cheated, at some point, I'm sure, right?  Okay, I know I have in the past and I do not believe you will be sent down to the flames for it.  I do believe it is a great gesture on our part, that we can accomplish once a year to remind ourselves of the sacrifice He made for us, to have freedom of choice and to live on this earth with sin. 

      We all know, Sunday, is supposed to be the day of rest, so we can  indulge Today!!!