this recipe. I've been trying to be a little more organized with my cooking. I am taking full advantage of the local farmer's markets but I need to plan or I will succumb to buying so much of the gorgeous produce that I cannot use it all. I've experimented a bit with some new vegetables and grains as well. This recipe uses quinoa, a very high protein grain. I also made tabbouleh using barley and my abundant supply of mint a couple of weeks ago. You may notice these recipes are meatless. And it's Friday. And it's not Lent!
The Church never took away the requirement for acts of penance on Friday. What she did was remove the specification that the penitential action had to be abstinence from meat. The reality is that once the restrictions on meat were lifted, most Catholics did not replace it with anything else. In fact, I had no idea we were even supposed to offer up some sort of sacrifice on Fridays until about five years ago. So I tried to come up with a penance on Fridays. Well at least some Fridays. On occasion. If I remembered.
Then a couple of years ago I was at a Catholic conference and some lovely habited nuns who were also in attendance commented on how grateful they were to find grilled cheese sandwiches in the lunch line. I asked them if their abstinence from meat on Friday was part of their order's discipline. They smiled and explained that they had just returned to the tried and true Friday penance.
I thought about that. Why was I trying to reinvent the wheel? For years and years, Catholics offered meatless Fridays as a communal penance. What was the point in trying to find something new? The Bishops of England and Wales actually reinstated meatless Fridays for their diocese. Now that I have given up meat on Fridays for a couple of years I can understand why. As more and more Catholics return to meatless Fridays, there is increased solidarity in the Catholic community. It strengthens the Catholic identity of the community when everyone engages in the same act of penance. It builds a Catholic culture.
There is no moral obligation to take this path. But there is a requirement to do something. I really would encourage you to think about joining the meatless Friday movement. It offers spiritual benefits for you as an individual as well. Perhaps more importantly, it helps strengthen the flailing Catholic identity in our culture.