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Our readers asked:

Why do Catholics only eat fish on Good Friday?

Mike Hayes Answers:

Technically speaking, Catholics are firstly required to fast on Good Friday, meaning to eat only one full meal for the day and then to merely sustain themselves for the rest of the day–meaning two smaller meals that do not equal the one large meal.

To your question, Catholics are also required to abstain from eating meat on both Good Friday and each Friday in Lent (as well as Ash Wednesday). Fish is used as a substitute for meat-based meals. But of course with vegetarian diets abound in today’s day and age there are many other solutions besides fish.

Historically, since about the second century of Christianity, Christians abstained from meat on Friday as a kind of sacrifice and reminder that acknowledged Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross which we commemorate on Good Friday. It’s also why we proclaim the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary on Friday. About a century or two later, Lent came into being, as a season of intense preparation for Easter, so the fasting and abstinence was extended to much of Lent.

The Second Vatican Council simplified many Catholic customs and laws. There was too much of an emphasis on sin and sacrifice and some of the practices were rather involved. Many people believed that breaking Friday abstinence as a sin so serious it could land you in hell. They knew the whole thing had gotten out of hand.

So the bishops preserved fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and the Friday meat abstinence law during the more penitential time of Lent.

Some have said the Bishops were in cahoots with the fishing industry, but there is little to no evidence to claim that as truth.

 
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The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mike

    many ot not so many years ago everybody even in schools ate fish on fridays, the secular would took that away slowly. now it is done mostly during Lent. but the real question is do we really know what Jesjs and his Dicepels really ate for the “Last Meal”? he could have had a rack of lamb for all we know. just like the apple is said to have been the forbidden fruit. whereas the furit that was indigenous to that area was the fig. then the irony of the fig is it was Jesus favorite snack.

  • joe zavala

    Bishops got free fish for life, kick backs have been around forever.

  • Steve Challenger

    In England and Wales, Catholics are now required to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year, not just Lent. If the person is not a meat eater, then some other kind of “sacrifice” should be made.

    • Jack Florenz

      Catholics in England & Wales are required to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year, but they’re NOT told they will commit a mortal sin and go to hell if they don’t. So, it’s not a return to the old days.
      The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia stated: “The law of abstinence on Friday embodies a serious obligation whose transgression ordinarily involves a mortal sin. The unanimous verdict of theologians, the constant practice of the faithful, and the mind of the Church place this point beyond doubt.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.zamarron.16 Veronica Zamarron

    Good explanation of the whole fast/abstinence requirements! I’ve had friends and family tell me that they LOVE seafood so they don’t see it as a sacrifice. But it IS a sacrifice!! So now I can point that out to them. And although there’s no “Church-fishing industry conspiracy”, it’s interesting to see the increase of fish and seafood selections at most national fast food chains…nice to have more options!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/webgeekstress Doris Smith

    Exercise for the reader:
    Which more truly represents the spirit of Lenten abstinence?

    A) Going to a fancy fish restaurant, ordering a half dozen oysters on the half shell, followed by half of a grilled lobster, accompanied by a glass or two of nice white wine, (but no dessert – this *is* Lent, after all) or

    B) Going to McDonalds for a Big Mac, calculating the difference between the cost of the McDonalds meal and that of the fancy lobster dinner, and sending a donation in the amount of that difference to your local community food bank.

    P.S. “Some have said the Bishops were in cahoots with the fishing industry…” – Hah! Good one!

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