Q. My child was invited to a sleep-over at a friend’s house on a Friday during Lent. I told him he could go if he promised not to eat any pizza with meat on it. When he got there, all they had was sausage and pepperoni and he had some. How do we handle this in the future? And why is meat OK on Friday the rest of the year?
A. Meat or no meat…that is the question.
It’s true that the requirement to abstain from meat now only applies to Lent. In the past it applied to every Friday of the year. So one might ask the question, “Why? Is there something wrong with meat? Why is it okay during the rest of the year but not Lent?” Let me explain.
First, there is nothing wrong in itself with eating meat. Jesus ate meat, and this is a part of God’s plan for our lives. Of course there is no obligation to eat meat either. One is free to be a vegetarian but not required to do so.
So what’s the deal with not eating meat on Fridays in Lent? It’s simply a universal law of abstinence decided upon by the Catholic Church. What I mean is that our Church sees great value in offering sacrifice to God. In fact, our universal Church law is that every Friday of the year is to be a day of fasting of some sort. It’s only in Lent that we are asked to sacrifice in the specific way of giving up meat on Fridays. This is of great value to the entire Church in that we all share together in the same sacrifice during Lent. This unites us in our sacrifice and enables us to share a common bond.
Furthermore, this is a rule given us by the pope. Therefore, if he decided on another form of sacrifice on Fridays in Lent, or any other day throughout the year, we would be bound by this common law and be asked by God to follow it. Truth be told, it is a very small sacrifice in comparison to the sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday.
But your question also has another component to it. What about your child accepting an invitation to a friend’s house on Fridays during Lent in the future? I’d also suggest that this could be a good opportunity for your family to share your faith. If there is another invitation, you could simply share your concern with the other parent that, as a Catholic, you give up meat on Fridays in Lent. Perhaps this will lead to a good discussion.
And don’t forget that this small sacrifice is given to us as a way of better sharing in the one sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross! Therefore, this little sacrifice has great potential to help us become more like Him.