Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A scenario for Friday abstinence

It's Friday night and you go to friends for dinner having told them, some days beforehand, that you don't eat meat on Fridays.

Now the stuff of nightmares for Catholics
on a Friday night
As the main course arrives on the table you see that it is Beef Wellington (or Boeuf Wellington if you have executive friends).

What do you do?

A) Politely leave the meat and eat the carrots and potatoes making "umm,
     delicious" type noises

B) Wait until no one is looking and slide the offending piece of beef into your
      pocket or handbag

C) Slip the beef secretly to the family dog/cat/goldfish and hope for the best

D) Pretend you have a black eye and slap the beef over the 'bruise'

ANSWER: You do none of the above - you eat the meat without complaint.

No sin has been committed but a sin might be committed if you gave rise to offence and possible scandal by rejecting the meat. Your intentions were pure, no problem.

HOWEVER.......If halfway through the meal your hostess suddenly screams and says: "Swipe me but I've just remembered you are a card carrying Papist and you don't eat animals of the mammalian persuasion on Fridays"
You then have to go to some lengths to prove that your silence was born out of courtesy and not out of weakness on your part. Over to you.


  1. Back in the olden days, I was taught that, although it was a sin to eat meat on a Friday, it was a bigger sin to waste food.

  2. Richard,
    A great post! As to sin-no sin post on my blog:(The Jarrow Scriptorium) on Friday last ;according to the Sunday bulletin of St Mary's Cathedral Newcastle it is not a sin to eat meat on a Friday as it is only a request from the Bishops, but one is bound to do some form of penance on Fridays! As to pattiff post comment I agree it would be a bigger sin to waste the food! (I am starting to sound like a would be theologian).

    God Bless/Cheer.

  3. Our usual Friday Penance( acknowledgement of the dreadful torture and death of Our Dear Lord) is to abstain from the Rev James or wine/whisky etc
    as well as meatfree meal; now that can hit harder than the meal by the way especially on a hot day when a Martini with ice and lemon could go down a treat; But, if there are predicaments we know it is not a sin as in our hearts we want to have solidarity with Our Saviour and the mind is on this as we struggle. So Friday stands out as a special day due to the struggle. See?

  4. Troll-like fruitless quibble:
    I have read, but not checked , that some order of monks at some point tried to bowldlerize the NT out of St John Baptist eating locusts,ever,let alone on Fridays or in Lent, as these would be meat, even if un-mammalian.Or is it mammiferous?

  5. Mike - I am sure you are right, I seem to recall that some part of the world used to eat beavers on Fridays as they were deemed aquatic and, therefore, non mammalian (or mammiferous)!

  6. Momangelica - abstention from a martini may be a bridge too far! You put me to shame.

    Pattif - I was taught that also.

    Michael - Yes, their lordships seem a bit unsure about what constitutes a sin. Pre Vat II it was considered a venial sin to break the abstention rule.

  7. I seem to remember a story about St. Teresa of Avila being offered bacon on a Friday after she and some nuns had traveled some distance; not only did she enjoy the bacon, she chastised the nuns who pointedly left their bacon on their plates. The general rule is, you presume the good intentions of your host rather than some perverse test of your fidelity.

    And have the red wine. Or a bourbon and Seven (I don't care for martinis, whether shaken, stirred, folded, bent, stapled or mutilated).

  8. OR - you can do what I do, and politely turn down invites on Fridays to avoid any chance of the aforementioned scenario from happening (but it's important to remember I'm anti-social and look for any excuse to get out of said dinner dates).

  9. I usually slide the much-lusted-after-piece-of-meat to my non-observing companion when my hosts are not looking. That should take care of my soul and give due respect to host's hospitality.

    But I fault...as Chesterton puts it- he that looks at a plate of ham and eggs with lust hath already committed breakfast/lunch/supper with it in his heart

    Arrrrgh! Catholicism is not meant for for wimps...

  10. It's certainly a sin to fast like a Pharisee - to draw attention to yourself, to fast as "a mark of identity", as a means of advertising "different-ness".

    You eat what you're given and you make no mention of it whatsoever.

  11. (b) for me. Waste not, want not.
    Definitely not (d) as the beef is never rare enough.
    Perhaps if you ate it really fast it wouldn't count as you wouldn't taste anything.
    Knowing my non-C friends they'd just say: "Good. All the more for us."

  12. A traditionalist priest told me many years ago that in these circumstances one should eat the meat and offer it up as a sacrifice, for the reasons you give [phariseeism, causing offence etc.]

    Just plain Catholic common sense!

    I don't know about asking for seconds though ;-)

  13. The obvious thing to do is take the meat, run all the way to Scotland, eat it, and return to the table before anyone notices your absence.

    God bless.