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  • BHG
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    YES you are on to something. It’s easier to tell what football team an American supports than what religion he practices. YES we need to return to the externals! YES YES YES.

  • Joseph Reciniello
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    I cannot speak for the Bishop’s in England but the practice of “fasting” on Fridays (every Friday during the year) never went away. Just because many people do not practice it and it is not discussed from the pulpit often / ever (at least in my parts), does not mean it disappeared.

    “All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.” (CIC 1249)

    Thus the law of abstinence from meat is still binding unless one’s national bishops’ conference has provided for alternate forms of penance. In the United States, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has obtained permission from the Vatican for such substitution. Catholics are obliged to do some form of penance on Fridays and keep the day as per canon 1249, but now they can choose the form of penance they wish to do.

    Let us all remember that Jesus Christ shed his blood for us on Friday. Is making a small sacrifice too much to ask one day a week???

    For heavens sake…………………..

  • Ed Kemp
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    I think it would be better if we had to sacrifice something a bit more serious than meat on Fridays. How about no unnecessary cell phone, television or computer usage, something that would actually make people stop and think.

    What makes us different from other Christians is that we believe in the true presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. What makes us different from non-Christians is that we believe Christ is the Messiah.

  • Mamabearjd
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    It’s a great question! My daughter and I recently started covering our heads for Mass, because it just feels right, aand we are hoping to lend some courage for more to do so. Love your posts, I follow all the way from Texas!

  • Daniel Harrigan
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    Dear Archbishop Dolan, I ask you and your fellow Bishops to do the same. I’m willing to forgo meat on Friday. Our faith has been wasting away due to a lack of fervor and dying to self. I pray you can move the church in America back to some of these wonderful traditions we jettisoned. Communion on the tongue only would go a long way to put reverence for our Lord in the Eucharist back in the hearts of the faithful. I’m 42 years old and lived through post Vatican years in the 70’s. It was terrible. Many my age have left the Church due to the terrible formation we received during that time. Most my age are indifferent to the faith or just don’t believe anymore. I ask you and your fellow Bishops to live the faith and TEACH it. I’ll pray for you.

  • Lutheran Convert
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    As a Lutheran convert, I long for a more open encouragement of these external markers by our Bishops and Priests. From what I have seen since becoming Catholic, it seems that the idea of penance, and Fridays as a day of penance is almost completely absent among most Catholics I know. Almost every person I know (Catholic or not) think this is just something Catholics “used to do” but “are no longer required”, or even encouraged to do. I personally chose to abstain from meat on Fridays, but I have a very hard time convincing my children and wife that Fridays are still are a day of penance, and that penitential practices are valuable and even essential. I think the Bishops of England are most certainly on to something, and I pray that our own Episcopacy will rediscover and encourage such practices among the faithful. The toothpaste may be out of the tube, but if we have truly lost something valuable, then it does not matter how difficult it is to reclaim it. God will provide what is required to get the toothpaste back in if we truly cannot afford to lose it.

  • Happy Dude
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    It ought to be said that Friday penance is still obligatory and binding; it’s just that its pre-determination as abstinence from meat has been made optional

    Canon 1251 of the 1983 Code promulgated by Bl. John Paul II: “Abstinence from eating meat or some other food according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops is to be observed on every Friday of the year unless a Friday occurs on a day listed as a solemnity. Abstinence and fasting, however, are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.”

    After the Council, the Church began to privilege interior markers — which was major among the reformers’ points. This was the result of modern thinking (e.g. Descartes) which reduced human reality to mental activity.

    The classical teaching of the Church, both philosophically and theologically, is that man is a substance composed of spirit and body.

    One could not have a marker that is interiorly signifincant unless there is a corresponding exterior marker. Of course, this is not to say that there cannot be validly spiritual and grace-filled experiences apart from exterior signs. But Christ instituted Sacraments for a reason. He came to save humanity. And in order for humans to do things together: we need markers.

    It ought also be said that the validity of a marker need not require it to flow from the interior trait in everyone. It is possible for catechetical reasons to despoil the Egyptians of practices that are made to be markers, and that can give rise to a corresponding interiority.

    The soul-body unity is a two way street.

    Bring back the Fish!

  • Rene
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    If it is now required of the British, it may be a good idea if it also becomes required of the Americans.

  • Clark Whitney
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    My family kept the discipline of not eating meat on Friday. When I was 5 years old, I remember asking my mother, “Why don’t we eat meat on Friday?” And she responded, “It’s a sacrifice.” I didn’t fully grasp, at 5 years old, the significance of how Christ’s death for our salvation on a Friday meant that we should give up meat on the same day for all eternity, but I went along with it. We were not a particularly devout family, but this is one custom we kept.

    This strange seed was planted in me through that discipline, the idea that something more must spring from my faith. I can look back now at 36 and see how that small weekly act forced me to search for deeper understanding of my faith, developed the idea of doing works of charity, of forgetting myself for a while, giving up bad habits and resisting temptation. All fruits brought about in my life from not eating meat on Friday.

    It wasn’t always a sacrifice, there are so many things in our modern world that are much tastier than meat. Though sometimes it was a sacrifice, especially at a celebration or at a great restaurant known for their steaks. As an adult, the inevitable question arises, “Are you a vegan?” “No, I’m just a Catholic.” It has brought many opportunities to share my faith with people and even the most secular among my friends seem to have a profound respect for my little sacrifice for God.

    Wherever I have traveled over the years, this practice always reminds me that I am a Catholic Christian and has forced me to consider my behavior and actions, privately and especially publicly. Additionally, it has given me a sense that I am part of this long and great history, keeping a custom that goes back to Apostolic times.

    When I heard that the bishops in the UK were restoring the discipline, I admit, I felt a little envious. I hope those that observe experience similar graces.

    Clark Whitney, NYC

  • Susan Cole
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    shortly after England’s bishops re-applied the discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays and after some prayer, i unilaterally (also no discussion with the pastor of the local church) i decided to abstain from meat on fridays as part of my penatential behaviors. i am a bit startled at how difficult it is. i have told no one(even my husband hasn’t noticed that there has only be fish or salads for dinner those dayst) sometimes all i want is bacon. for me this has been a good thing and i think also the right thing.

  • HV Observer
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    Please add to your list: ad orientem worship, where the priest and the people “turn together toward the Lord.”

  • AndyP/Doria2
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    What makes us different as Catholics? Pretty darn close to nothing Your excellency We contracept like non Catholics, we divorce, abort, and vote like non Catholics.

    Many people blame Vatican 2. I agree to an extent. Vatican 2 had many good teachings. It was the apostates who came out ov V2 with what has become known as “the spirit of V2” that is the smoke of Satan that entered the sanctuary and still smolders today.

    We teach our children criticism, source theories and Q source fantasies. Our leadership has offered milquetoast ever since. We feed milk instead of solid food. Before V2, 75% of Catholics celebrated weekly Mass, now about 25% do. We have close to 70,000,000 Catholics in this country and we have the most anti Catholic government ever.

    You mention “ . . . seriousness about Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation;” We just had a Holy Day, The Assumption, that was demoted to a Sunday observance. Heaven forbid that folks go to Mass twice in one week. We have Saturday Masses that were supposed to be ONLY for people who could not possibly make Sunday Mass. Now it’s a “Uhh, let me get this outta the way so I can sleep late on Sunday” Mass.

    Then we have weak statements like “I’m not saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. The toothpaste is probably out of the tube. I’m just suggesting that this is a conversation well-worth having.”

    Why not reintroduce these wonderful Traditions? We’re losing people to Protestant fundamentalism in droves anyway. Why not show the future young Catholics that this Church means business?

    It is our leadership that for over 50 years has watered down the faith and is in the process of killing the faith in the West. Thank God for Africa and Southeast Asia where our Lord is showing that indeed the gates of hades will not prevail.

    I’ll say it again Archbishop. You were chosen to a very powerful job. With you on the east coast, Archbishop Gomez on the west coast and now Archbishop Chaput (one of my personal heros) in Philadelphia, and above all Cardinal Burke in a high position in the vatican, my daily Rosaries seem to be paying off. You MUST take charge. Lead us. There are millions of us out here who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you if you three will only lead us.

    As Mother Teresa once said to Cardinal O’Connor – “Let God.”

    Blessed Pope John Paul II said “Be not afraid.” Be the leader you were born to be.

  • Miriam
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    I went to school in Brooklyn during the 50s. We always had fish for Friday lunch at school. And even though I was not raised Catholic, we always had fish for dinner on Friday at home as well.

    I’m very thankful that I love fish. (I think it’s because I am Norwegian, lol

    As a convert (Easter vigil 2008), what bothers me is that the US bishops have decided that there are pretty much no holy days of obligation. When I read the calendar for the rest of the world the good old USA really stands out as not belonging.

    Monday was the feast of the Assumption but doesn’t seem to mean much since it’s not a day of obligation. Well in the US anyway. The priest who is filling in for the next two weeks since our pastor is at WYD is from England. It is a day of obligation there. How sad for us.

    Want more faithful Catholics? Bring back the days of obligation and meatless Fridays. Have the externals, they’re necessary.

  • ANNE
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    I hope the New York Archdiocese will bring back the discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays. It is time for the shepherds to lead the sheep that are being devoured by the wolves of a secular, materialistic culture. Please save us!

  • AndyP/Doria2
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    And one more thing Your Excellency. A must read below. It shows how fast collapse can happen in of all places:

    Ireland July 31, 2011

    As the Irish taoiseach or prime minister put it this week, relations between church and state in Ireland will never be the same.

    Actually, they will continue to be the same, for from the beginning the Irish constitution separated them, and while it invokes the Trinity and so forth, the Catholic Church there has never enjoyed the established status of, say, the Church of England in England, except once upon a time in the hearts of the people.

    Enda Kenny (the taoiseach in question) was building on the impact of the Cloyne Report, the latest and biggest in a series of official inquiries into sexual scandal in the diocese of Cloyne. It goes beyond allegations that (at current count) 11 of the many hundred priests were guilty of molesting children, to allege that, even quite recently, members of the hierarchy were trying to downplay and cover it up, to protect the Church’s reputation. It also found police responses sometimes inadequate.

    Priestly scandals of this sort have been in the news for some time; any allegation will be widely and prominently reported. Benedict XVI, who played a courageous role in launching internal investigations even before he was elevated to Pope, has since repeatedly and publicly lashed himself, on behalf of the whole Church, for its past failures, and refused, in principle, to offer extenuations. He gets little or no credit for this. As visible symbol of the Church, he continues to be the personal target of the most visceral critics, including especially her worst enemies within.

    Kenny has been generally celebrated for crossing a taboo line in Irish politics, with an incendiary speech that went beyond condemning specific Church failures, to damning the Vatican tout court. Using expressions like, “the rape and torture of children,” and naming the Pope personally, he was able to raise a huge cheer from every anti-clerical soul in the whole Irish diaspora.

    Heretofore, given her historical prestige in Ireland, and what was once great loyalty to her, no Irish politician dared attack the entire Church in such a frontal way, and indeed, a certain obsequiousness towards bishops and priests was believed necessary to get oneself elected in Ireland. Those days are now gone, as the critics correctly observe, while gloating over the damage that the Church has sustained. A letter-writer to one of the Irish papers provided a succinct history of the Irish governing class, since independence: “Blame the British. Blame the EU. Blame the Vatican.” We are now in phase three.

    Kenny is a career politician, who spent ages on the backbenches before smelling the main chance. In the short months since he became Lord of the Dail, he has been otherwise noted for botching a tax proposal: a scheme that would raid private pension savings, to finance government job-creation programs. (Under fire, he then amended it to exempt the truly wealthy.) Against the impending bankruptcy of the Irish state, he has taken two bold, widely-publicized strokes. He has made reductions in the government motor pool; and he has claimed to be good friends with Angela Merkel (the German chancellor who just bailed out Greece). Perhaps we should give him time for other measures.

    He is no more contemptible than most politicians, who tend to get worse the higher they slither up “the greasy pole,” as Disraeli called it. Having smelled sulphureous anti-clericalism in the Irish air, he now turns it to political advantage.

    The truth is sometimes more complex than what is presented in the mass media, or for that matter, than what is believed by howling mobs. Irish anti-clericalism was itself not exactly born yesterday. Nothing deeply loved fails to be occasionally hated; and anyone who has ever met a devout Irish person, will know that his sword has two edges: one glinting towards the world, and the other at the throat of his bishop.

    But those are the devout. As progressive critics note, with gleeful approval, the proportion of them within the overall Irish population has fallen considerably.

    Now look at Ireland. Outwardly, this country appears to have become a very prosperous place, with evidence everywhere of the buying power of paper money and credit cards. Disposable income has moreover swelled with the sharp decline of the famous Irish birthrate, though it remains high for Europe. (Now look at Europe.)

    A little more inwardly, an aging, increasingly childless population has piled extraordinary personal debt on top of a state debt that is astronomical, and the entire country awaits the arrival of the European bailout machinery.

    More deeply, much more deeply, Ireland has bought into secular post-modern consumerism in a huge and apparently sudden way, rather as Quebec did in an earlier generation. The comparison is instructive: the almost overnight disintegration of the Catholic Church, after decades of mostly invisible foundational weakening; the inundation, like a dam bursting, of centuries of cultural life profoundly guided by Church teachings.

    This had approximately nothing to do with child-molesting priests. They are just a pretext for the angry. The real story is to be found buried in a single Gospel line: “What will it profit them, if they gain the whole world but lose their own souls?” David Warren

    Link – http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/index.php?id=1303

  • Rushad
    August 16, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency, as a 21-year-old Catholic who does observe the Friday Fast from Meat year-round, I think it would be well-worthwhile for the Church in the United States to restore the obligatory nature of the Friday meat fast, as well as the three hour-fast before Holy Communion. In addition, I think it would be great if Mass attendance on Holy Days of Obligation was mandatory no matter what day of the week the Solemnity falls on, and I can’t tell you how distressing it is that, in all but a few provinces in this country, the Solemnity of the Ascension has been permanently transferred to the following Sunday. Your Excellency, please give us our feast days back. As a young Catholic I want clear markers of my Catholic identity. God Bless you!

  • Matt
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I do think this is a topic worth exploring. Changes such as these and changes to the Mass have stripped us of what once was a distinctive Catholic identity. We should ask ourselves how much these changes have actually contributed to Church unity (ecumenism) as opposed to how much they have led to laziness and apathy among the faithful. However, I think these changes should ideally be implemented worldwide if we are to be a truly Catholic Church. Otherwise, rivalries might develop along the lines of whose diocese is more or less disciplined.

    There are still some things that distinguish us as Catholics, though, most notably our devotion to Mary.

  • Henry
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Great post which highlights a vital issue! I especially like these paragraphs: “A balance is good: if all the emphasis is on these external markers, the danger is hypocrisy and scrupulous observance of man-made laws.

    But, if all the emphasis is on the interior, with no exterior sign of identity, the risk is a loss of a sense of belonging and communal solidarity.

    We sure need both.”

    Speaking for myself, I’d say that one of the distinctive external markers should be the way we interact with reality because we believe that reality is permeated by a Presence that loves us. Therefore, all of reality is a sign of my beloved! And for that reason, we are interested in all of reality, not just the portion that fits into my worldview.

  • Martin Kelly
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Dear Excellency,

    More than 20 years ago, I revisited the “letter” published by the American Catholic Bishops formally easing the restriction of eating meat on Fridays in the late 1960’s. Clearly, everyone remembers that we were told that meat was no longer forbidden on Fridays, except during Lent and Ash Wednesday. But, to my surprise, the letter also said that we should replace this penitential act with another of our own choosing. This part of the letter is remembered by no one, let alone put into action. So, I decided at the time to adopt as my penitential act the very act that American Catholics were “freed” from performing.

    To say the least, I have received much criticism from my family for upsetting the Friday meal options in the household. However, I am at peace with my decision, knowing that my Saviour died for me so that I may live with Him in the next life despite my many sins. It’s a “Thank-you, Jesus!” action that I repeat every week.

    May God bless you in your positions as ordinary of the NY Archdiocese and President of the USCCB. I will be praying for you and your intentions.

    P.S. Unlike other good Catholics who sometimes inadvertently forget to abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays, I have never forgotten, as my habit of abstaining from meat on all Fridays has trained me well.

  • Kevin Jackson
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Thank you Archbishop. Here in the Bible Belt, I can easily see how the external combined with the internal is definitely making us different as Catholics. Not far from the Southern Baptist’s “Vatican” at 8th & Broadway in Nashville, TN, is the motherhouse of the St. Cecilia Dominicans. This congregation of sisters has been here for over 100 years and is experiencing phenomenal growth and is a prime example of which you speak. As we affectionately refer to them as our “Dixie Chicks”, the sisters are highly sought after to lead Catholic schools all over the country. Their charism for teaching and their spirituality are their internal markers as well as external markers, but their most visible marker in our majority Protestant community of Middle Tennessee is their habit. If the external markers you mentioned are so bad according to some of the above writers, why is it these sisters have had to double the size of the mother house and why do bishops ask them to come to their dioceses to teach in their schools? I suppose another question could be is why is the Church growing in the South? I was born in Brooklyn, and raised in Fla., but I see many more local converts than Yankees.

  • Karen
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    My husband and I started observing meatless Fridays year-round a couple of years ago. We offer it up for the unborn with this prayer:

    Heavenly Father, in Your love for us, protect against the wickedness of the devil those helpless little ones to whom You have given the gift of life.
    Touch with pity the hearts of those women pregnant in our world today who are not thinking of motherhood.
    Help them to see that the child they carry is made in Your image – as well as theirs – made for eternal life.
    Dispel their fear and selfishness and give them true womanly hearts to love their babies and give them birth and all the needed care that a mother can give.
    We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

  • Christian Aden
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I’m a recent convert to the Catholic Faith. Growing up in an insular Lutheran community, I had many confused misunderstandings about what Catholics really believed and what they did. Apart from a small part of my mom’s family I didn’t know any Catholics whatsoever. Growing up, I–and I think everyone around me–still believed that “Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays”. So when I would see someone who I knew to be Catholic eat meat on Friday, I would be somewhat shocked that they would deny or overlook what I mistakenly believed to be an important aspect of their faith. Much the way that some accuse the Amish of “cheating” when they see them using technologies mistakenly believed to be forbidden to them based on a deficient understanding of actual Amish belief and practice.

    My wife is from Poland and her family is very devoutly Catholic. She and her family continue to observe Friday abstinence. After we got married, when I was still a Lutheran, I rebelliously ate meat on Fridays whether I wanted to or not.

    Since becoming Catholic, I have joined my wife in abstaining from meat on Fridays. Not only does it help me set aside Friday as a day of penitential observance, but it’s also given me the opportunity to share my faith with non-Catholics and to remind fellow Catholics, by my small example, of their own obligations to their faith.

    I heartily support a reintroduction of Friday Abstinence by the American Conference of Catholic Bishops for I think there is no external marker of our faith that is more obvious to non-Catholics and which, for that reason, might give us the most immediate opportunities to evangelize the wider culture. Also, it’s been my sad experience that for most American Catholics, the significance of EVERY Friday in its relationship to EVERY Sunday is no longer emphasized or even recognized.

  • James
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Eminence,

    Is this leadership? The, “Listen, I don’t have or know all the answers, but let’s dialogue…” approach? I can only imagine what would have happened to the Church in Corinth if St. Paul used such a tact. “Listen, I’m not saying I have all the answers, and certainly I’m not saying anything *should* change, but let’s have an open, honest conversation about how you think we should behave when gathered together in the Lord’s house.” It’s weak and it’s the reason we are in such a mess today.

    To answer your question, today nothing makes us different as Catholics. Our lives look exactly like our pagan neighbors and, as a result, so do our values. We divorce at the same rate as the rest of America, we vote for whomever we want regardless of their opposition to Church teaching, and we do whatever feels good on Saturday night, then come receive Holy Communion only when we feel like it on Sunday morning.

    With all this in mind, there is absolutely no question we need to bring back every single sign listed above, and we need it done quickly. You say the interior needs to be right to manifest externally, and that is true. And, it is also true that it works in reverse as well. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Grace builds on nature.” When we are doing the external works, penance, and mortification necessary to overcome our sinful inclinations, we are more open to God’s outpouring of grace and our interior life comes into line with that which we profess by our actions.

    I know this because it wasn’t until this year that I took on everything listed above. I started taking Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days very seriously, regardless of what has been abrogated, which is a whole other conversation. I started fasting on Fridays and the Ember days. And, I took the Holy Father’s admonition seriously and chose a good Catholic name for my first son. The result? I am closer to Christ and am living a more fully Catholic life than at any other point in my brief 31 years. I also finally let go of several things (internally and externally) to which I have been clinging for the better part of a decade. This has made me a better father, a better husband, and a much better spiritual leader of my family, to my wife’s great surprise and satisfaction. This all came about because I encountered a strong priest, who is a strong leader of his flock. He doesn’t pull any punches and he isn’t afraid to challenge you on how you’re living your life.

    I share all this to underscore the point that we don’t need wishy-washy, “Hey, what do y’all think?” leadership. We need holy priests, Bishops, Archbishops, etc. who aren’t afraid to challenge us and *tell* us when we need to change. Merely raising questions and creating dialogue isn’t enough! We need to be reminded, over and over, how much we need change, how much we need conversion, how much we need to “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Please, I am begging you, stand up and lead! Our families need it, our country needs it, and, indeed, our world needs it!

    In Christ,
    James

  • Brenda
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    The Archbishop makes a number of good points. But I find one their has to be one far more important: WHY did we go without meat on Fridays? We went without meat as a sign of penance. Penance was done to ‘make up’ for our own sins and those of others. The real question is, ‘why does the Church NOT emphasize the presence of sin in our lives and the Need for penance?’ If we only re-instate the act without the true purpose, it will be meaningless.

  • Steve Baker
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Thank you for this latest missive Your Excellency. One of the reasons that I love our faith so much is that it is a sensory experience in the Mass, and the sacramentals that have been such a wonderful tradition in our Church. These outward signs of our faith are indications to the rest of the world that we should be proud to display. I find that small mortifications are true helps to avoiding temptations and lead to a life more in line with the virtues and how Our Lord would like me to be. Thank you again Bishop Dolan and may God richly bless your ministry.

  • Jonathan Aquino
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Well said, Your Excellency.

    Saw this via Fr. Z’s blog.

  • Ken
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I totally agree. On everything.

    Now, can you help make it happen? (Not that I don’t like all these good blog posts, Your Excellency, but your sheep are looking for a little more leadership than blog thoughts.)

    USCCB, just do it.

  • Patricius
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    You conspicuously left-out that the Muslims and Jews use their sacred languages, which was another external marker we lost this century. This external markers, are just that, markers – they aren’t the meat and potatoes of our faith (viz. faith in the Risen Lord, charity, etc.). Nevertheless, external markers often help form inner piety and devotion. For example, my son acts differently when he wears play-cloths and when he wears church-cloths. Another example, the brown scapular reminds us, in our nakedness of the sacred, and may, therefore, help to cultivate internal and external chastity.

    This signs are important not only because they may help *us* gain salvation but because an identifiable Catholic culture with recognizable external markers draws more souls to the Church, effectively, aiding in the salvation of *others’* souls.

  • Wanda
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Thank you, Archbishop Dolan! I, and it seems many others here, welcome your posting on meatless Fridays and on penance. The Church is in such dire need of restoration in these areas and in many others. Thank you and please, let’s do it. God bless you and strengthen you to guard and defend the flock entrusted to your care.

    (Hello from Fr. Z. and wdtprs!)

  • Dan Hunter
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Excellency,
    Great points!
    My wife and I have not eaten meat on Friday, any Friday, for three years.
    We also do the 3 hour, or midnight fast before recieving the Sunstantial God in the Blessed Sacrament.

    These are all disciplines that must be brought back by mandate, by the Holy Father in the Universal Church, to strengthen Catholic Identity and promote Holiness.

  • Josh
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    As a catholic beneath the age of 20, I would be thrilled if the bishops brought this external sacrifice back. For me, it’s not an act of nostalgia but an act of love for God and subsequently, a yearn for tradition.

  • JWDT
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Yes, external markers are important…they are a witness to Our Belief System. Another marker would be the Roman Habit that was once the “uniform” of a Roman Catholic Priest….too many times have I ran into a person claiming to be either a Religious and they were in Shorts or some very casual attire…

  • K Gurries
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Yes, the Bishops of England are on to something essential. We must begin to restore important aspects of our Catholic heritage that have been discarded these past decades. We don’t need so much conversation or “dialogue” about it. We need our pastors to lead the way. This includes taking serious the correction of all abuses — including liturgical abuses that undermine our Catholic life and identity. Imagine if Bishops adopted the same “zero tolerance” policy towards liturgical abuse as they do towards other types of abuse…..

    K Gurries

  • MarylandBill
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I personally think that meatless Fridays and other external markers of our faith might be very good things. Obviously meatless Fridays and other such disciplines are good for penance and resisting temptation (i.e., if you can’t resist the burger at lunch, how are you going to resist the more serious temptations of life?). They will also, I think, help us to rebuild Catholic Identity. It seems to me that too many Catholics don’t really see how we are that much different than our Protestant Brothers. I admire the faith and dedication of some of my protestant friends, but I want to make sure that my Children understand that Catholicism is not just another denomination.

  • Maynardus
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Kudos to Your Excellency – this is most timely and I applaud you for having the courage to voice it, I pray that it will not fade away into oblivion as happened when Cardinals Law and Maida made a similar proposal a number of years ago. The silence from the “bench of bishops” at that time was deafening, perhaps the climate is more propitious for considering this today. If I may be permitted to make a further point for your consideration: I think it should be emphasized that Friday Abstinence wasn’t only about (personal) penitence, it was also a commemoration, weekly and lifelong, of Friday as the day of Our Lord’s Crucifixion; just as each Sunday is observed as the day of His Resurrection. When we understand that we are also eschewing meat – flesh – in acknowledgement of the day of the week when Our Lord’s earthly body – his flesh – was put to death, it becomes an even more powerful marker of Catholic identity…

  • Josh
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Excellency,

    My family abstains from meat every Friday to fast, and it have become a beautiful marker to my children of the outward expressions of our faith. Our oldest is 5 (one whom you blessed many times while we had you in Milwaukee) and he and the younger ones who are old enough to expect the routine, actually cherish the meatless Fridays as part of who we are.

    This is just one of many outward expressions of the faith we practice to try and be a people set apart. I strongly urge you as Archbishop of New York and president of the USCCB to encourage more formally the outward expressions of the faith, and to empower families, parishes, and catechists to help for the why behind them.

  • George @ Convert Journal
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    A wonderful piece with spot-on observations.

    The only part I disagree with is “I’m not saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. The toothpaste is probably out of the tube.” I think the loss of Catholic identity has contributed to a loss of faith. We absolutely SHOULD re-introduce the rituals and traditions that made the Church strong.

    I am a convert of 18 months and bet if you were to ask, most converts would agree with this. Being more like our Protestant denominations is not what attracts converts. Being stronger, more traditionally Catholic does.

  • Teresa
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Yes, let’s reintroduce the Friday abstinence from meat. It’s very important to be able to express our Faith in simple outward ways. It is a very good way to bring the family together as Catholics, to let friends know that we take our Faith seriously and to perform penance on Fridays in remembrance of the passion and death of Our Lord. I usually observe Friday penance, but it is never in an outward way. It would be great if the bishops reinstated this practice so that more people would do penance and also to unite Catholics in this outward practice. Will the bishops please take charge to bring back our traditions!

  • CARLOS
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Dear Archbishop Dolan, please bring back meatless Fridays. I am married with 3 children and we all don’t eat meat on Fridays and it’s been a blessing to us. It shows not only to us but to those around us that we can give something up for love of God. Many Catholics tell us they thought the Church got rid of Meatless Fridays and we tell them no, that that was never the case. Thank you for considering Meatless Fridays, I hope and pray that at least in your diocese it is reintroduced.

    ~JMJ~
    Carlos

  • Jason
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    “I’m just suggesting that this is a conversation well-worth having.”

    Your Excellency,

    Respectfully, I really think we need less talk and more action. Less “dialogue”, and more faith.

  • Taylor
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    As a few here, I am a convert from Lutheranism. The conversion is extremely distressing for me in the area of external markers that you referenced. The Lutheran (LCMS) church I came from celebrated ad orientem, chanted, had special services on their appropriate Feast Days (Ascension _Thursday_), and even exhorted no meat during Lent and a strict fast for all forty days–and we were Protestant! I converted for the Truth, but it was sad to find that I was acting more Protestant than I already had been by joining the Catholic faith, until I found an Extraordinary Form parish. Im’ not trying to push the EF, but the parisioners all practice things like daily Mass when possible, Holy Days of Obligation on their proper day, the year-round Friday penance from meat, and so on.

    We must restore our Catholic identity. It’s what we all crave in our bones to set us apart as the light and salt of the world. And we need the hierarchy to guide us. Why would the toothpaste be out of the tube for the US but not the UK and Wales? Don’t worry about the USCCB worry about needing dialogue–the Church governs from the top down, beginning with Christ. That’s how Our Lord intends; it’s why you have your position. Pax et bonum, Your Excellency!

  • Jaydee
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I returned to Friday abstinence from meat several years ago. It “feels” right to remember a certain Friday. However, it did not feel like enough, given the great seafood and vegetarian choices now available, so I decided to also forego “treats”, (desserts, snacks, some recreation, etc.), and contribute the savings to my “God Jar”. It adds up, and there are worthy organizations that benefit from my roughly quarterly donations no matter how small. Sounds trivial, but it works for me.

  • Colleen
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    YES, absolutely, Your Excellency! We need these markers so badly. There’s a reason the Church seems to be in such chaos. It’s like we’ve forgotten that human beings are both body AND soul. We as human need physical expressions of inward truths.

    Of course it would be difficult to re-introduce these things, but I feel that the toothpaste is not out of the tube. I am part of the young generation, and I’ve spoken to many other young Catholics. It seems that we all crave the way things used to be. It’s very difficult to give up the things of the world without replacing that space and time in our lives. This is where the externals come in. I fight the temptations of the world with my miraculous medal, my brown scapular, my rosary, and lots of other things that many people termed after Vatican II to be mere “extras.”

    Bringing back meatless Fridays will require humility on everyone’s part. It will require disciple. Self control. A spirit of penance. These all sound like good things to me. In return for our sacrifice, I believe we will be rewarded with abundant graces–the graces we need right now to withstand the scandals rocking our Church. We will be united at Catholics once more. We will be distinctive; we will stand out and be seen. People will ask questions as to why we do things differently, and we will be able to evangelize!

    Your Excellency, if such things are in your hands at all, PLEASE do what you can bring back meatless Fridays in the US, along with all the other “extras.” We need them so very much.

  • Karl
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I would support this move, on one very very important condition:

    That it be expressly made *not* grave matter (since preceptual obligations are conventionally considered grave matter unless otherwise indicated).

    It was the conversion of moral regime of abstinence to a primarily a matter of legalism that made it so brittle and vulnerable. The Eastern churches have shown that it is far better to keep legal concepts away from the issue of fasting and abstinence.

    To return to the former discipline without this important reform would be to repeat the prior error.

  • E. O. Caldwell
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    My family and I have been abstaining from meat on Fridays for a couple of years now. The kids are ok with it too. Please Archbishop start the ball rolling. You may even make some friends with peta.

  • Bryan
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Was linked here from Father Z’s site.

    This is a wonderful idea, and for all the right reasons. Please work to make this so.

  • Philip
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I would be thankful if the meatless Fridays came back as obligatory. We need to resume our culture of fasting and abstinence to help us live our faith.

    But first, perhaps a more pressing need would be to address the Holy Days of Obligation and the confusing toll it has had and still has on all of us.

    The latest example was the feast of the Assumption. Some oof us need encouragement to go to mass more than others.

  • Bill Guelker
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I had the pleasure of meeting Your Excellency in the Sacristy of Little Flower after the 8:00am Mass when you last returned to St. Louis. Our Lord gave it His All on Good Friday. Why can’t we demonstrate as a faith community our unity with Him in suffering – we won’t be giving our last drop of blood, just a visible sacrificial reminder of His magnum opus on that Friday long ago.

  • Ella
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    It is time for Catholics to have an external identity again. As a recent convert from fundamentalism, I want the fullness of truth that the Catholic church has in all of her beauty and thousands of years of faith, history and traditions. No one can see our heart (except the Lord) but everyone can see our outside behavior and what we do on the outside influences what we believe on the inside. Small example- everyone on our street who drives by on Sunday knows we are going to church by what we wear and some have talked to us about our faith because of that. Our children know they need to behave and that we are going somewhere special in their suits and pretty dresses. Would there be such an obvious external indicator is we schlepped out the door in shorts, tee shirts and flip-flops? Especially if it was on a Saturday night?

    I pray that the men of God who are priests, bishops, etc. in The Church will stand tall under the guidance of the Lord and lead boldly in the path of righteousness.

  • Hugh Edsall
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,
    Thank you for this message. My wife and I converted from the Episcopal church 3 years ago. I had been a priest of the Episcopal church for 51 years. We were so thrilled to become Roman Catholics because the church taught the Truth, while the Episcopal church was sliding into reductionist theology. However, we are dismayed at the sloppy theology sometimes found now in the Catholic Church. the lax nature of the teaching does not draw more people into the church but drives them away. Returning vigorously to the externals while teaching the faith with authority would attract people. We urge you to tighten the discipline and the theology which once made the Catholic Church powerful.

  • DOnald L. Morgan
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    From your Lips to the USCCB’s ears. Your Excellency, the loss of obiedience has severly damaged our Faith. Obiedience to the laws of the Church pointed to obiedience to God. Relaxing these precepts made obiedience to the other tenants of our Faith mere suggestions. I offer the state of Catholicism in the US as an example. Please return to us the spirit of obiedience that we may more fully understand and live the Faith to which we have been entrusted. Pax Christi

  • Susan
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    As another convert, I only recently discovered that the practice of Friday penance was never lifted. In response, my family has taken on the practice of eating no meat on Fridays, and while it is only a small sacrifice, it certainly does act as an external marker of our Catholic faith. I only wish we could let people know that it is a universal Catholic practice and not just something we do because we want to. Please bring it back to the U.S. Church!!

  • Jason
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Excellent article, Your Grace. I’m a post Vatican II person so I never knew the practice of abstention from meat ever Friday as penance. However, I adopted the policy myself about a year ago. I do wish the Church in the USA would follow the lead of the Church in the UK and institute, or revive, meatless Fridays.

    As the President of the USCCB, would you kindly bring it up with your brother bishops?

    Many thanks and God bless you.

    Jason
    Kenner, Louisiana

  • Olivia
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I have never known that meatless Fridays were still encouraged just not an obligation in the 60s.

    I am a lifelong Catholic and for my entire life not only are the externals of the faith not encouraged but I don’t find really the internals taken very seriously by many either. But, when I began to realize the existence of an interior faith life and how examining conscience, confession, penance and trying to acquire virtues in substitute for unhealthy/harmful/sinful habits, with the conversion I experienced I was able to discover a great joy and peace from the faith that I had never known before.

    Abstaining from meat and others that may be taken as external or visible signs, to me, are not one or the other, external versus interior but they interact with one another and inform one another in very real ways.

    We kind of had a reset button on these practices for some decades and so now that people do not do these things automatically by habit or by fear or conformity, it would be an interesting experience for people to reflect on the reason why meatless Fridays was first established, why the Church did not impose it as an obligation but hoped for people to practice it as a good practice voluntarily in the 60s, how it happened that it did not turn out as hoped, and what people feel in good conscience they could do to mark out days and weeks, Fridays to Sundays in light of our faith. Though the meatless aspect changed as no longer an outright obligation it is surprising to learn that the practice of recognizing Fridays in some way and performing penance on this day was is still recommended by our Church to be the better path for us spiritually.

  • Martial Artist
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Amen, your Excellency. Amen! You are an inspiration to all faithful Catholics.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Toepfer (parishioner, Archdiocese of Seattle)

  • James Ignatius McAuley
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Grace,

    The return to meatless Fridays as a marker of our Catholic identity would be a lovely idea. It would not be as hard as some think, as in the Erie, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester Dioceses there are plenty of “Friday Fishfrys” available.

    More importantly, would be the return of the Holy Days of Obligation in the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite — transferring Holy days to the nearest Sunday or just dropping them if they are too close to a Sunday does not increase the faith — it is a spiritual marketing disaster!

    Furthermore, we have heard incessantly since Vatican II that we laity must actively participate in the liturgy. How can the American Bishops look folks squarely in the eye and say they are promoting the laity’s active participation in the liturgy, when these same Bishops take away the opportunity for active participation by downgrading (let’s call it as it is, and not nuance it) the importance of the Holy Days of obligation, such as the Assumption. Let the Bishops and their Liturgical Committee put their money where their mouth is on active participation and restore the Holydays of Obligation!

    No need to dialogue more your Grace — our spiritual house is burning and now is the time for the holy water of action, not for jawing away!

  • Todd Drain
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    I thought that abstaining from meats on Fridays was still in effect, unless you offered something equivalent in reparation or abstinence? I guess that I was wrong on that. My family hasn’t eaten meat on Friday’s for… well… ever. If I have to eat meat due to circumstances than I offer a novena or something as an recompense. If I don’t, I mention it in my next Confession.

    I think it is a wonderful idea, if preached as to WHY we do it so that we are oriented to prayer and sacrifice on the day our Lord died for us.

    The Church works when the shepherds lead. It does not, when they do not. You must upbraid and edify, and CORRECT, your priests. All priests in your jurisdiction are an extension of YOUR hand. You are the diocese. I worry shepherds do not realize this. You are the diocese. All Sacraments flow through you. If priests understand why they MUST reinstitute this practice, and it is made abundantly clear in these things you desire are not REQUESTS, and that there will be penalties (sad to say you need them, but true) for non-compliance, then it will be a successful step for the Archdiocese of New York.

    I end with wise words from St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his epistle to the Symrneans (AD 107):

    “See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

    Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for you are worthy. You have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. You have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while you endure all things, you shall attain unto Him.”

  • ji
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Dear Excellency,
    I would venture to say that many,many Catholics would endorse this. The average Catholic in the pew is crying out for a return to those traditions that made us identifiable as Catholics. PLEASE BE A STRONG LEADER ! May God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary lead you in this endeavor.

  • Stephen Matthew
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    I think we should strive to reclaim these indentifying markers of out Catholic identity, and I have a proposal for how to begin:

    Nationwide, all bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and Catholic institutions/facilities (schools, etc.) should begin observing meatless Fridays throughout the year, while encouraging the laity to reclaim the practice.

    It is very hard to develop the habit of Friday penance as a solitary individual Catholic when there is no community support for this, and it is even harder to adopt a penatential practice with some exterior component such as the traditional abstinence from flesh meats without some support or at least cooperation.

    I say bring back the meatless Fridays as the norm, but start within the “institutional” part of the church and then expand it to everyone (and if genuinely needed, perhaps some alternative for special cases could be provided).

    (Thanks to Fr. Z’s WDTPRS blog for pointing out this fine blog post by the good Archbishop.)

  • Louise
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I think they are on to something if we are trying to be Pharisees instead of disciples of Jesus. What were Jesus’ external signs of faith? The blind saw, the lame leaped, the sick were cured, the hungry fed. Catholicism isn’t a club or a team by which we identify ourselves doing superficial actions for show while our neighbors starve, suffer, lack healthcare, go homeless, have their electricity or heat turned off, etc…. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

    I cannot help but recall Jesus’ words:

    The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. (Luke 11:39)

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. (MT 23:25-26)

  • Jesse
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    In my family we (usually) observe meatless Fridays. But for those of us younger than Vatican II, there is sometimes a sense of having come to the party as the lights are going out. The sense of Catholic identity has faded. Meatless Fridays, observed across the community, would help. We welcomed the news of England, we would relish it here. Please bring this up at the USCCB, Excellency!

  • David
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Dear Bishop,

    I will make a deal with you… I will stop eating meet on Fridays if you agree to enforce Canon 915 and excommunicate pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.

    What is worse? Me eating meat or Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, et al., participating in sacrilegious reception of the Body and Blood of Christ?

    David

  • Marc
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    My wife has been practicing abstinence from meat on Fridays for a few years now, but I have resisted. I need sausage on my Friday night pizza! This post has changed that. We absolutely need these external markers. And to keep those markers consistent with our heritage is very important in constantly evolving modern times, unlike a ‘cell-phone ban’ or some other thoughtful but eventually transient notion. Mortuum Mundo, Vivum in Christo!

  • Joe
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Please bring back the externals. We Catholics claim many things that we no longer practice. (meatless Fridays, daily rosary, confession, etc..) However, most Catholics are lost when asked to pry the rosary or how to give a proper confessn. Bringing back the visuals will help Catholics put their faith at the forefront of their daily lives again.

  • Lyda
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Yes! Please restore our Catholic identity by bringing back meatless Fridays. And while you’re at it, bring back our Holy Days, ad orientem and communion rails, too.

    I agree with many of the other comments–less dialogue, more action.

  • Thickmick
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    Less talk, more action. You head the US Bishops conference, so do it. Less time taking pictures with Derick Jeter….more time trying to save your flock.

  • David
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I currently do not abstain from meat on Fridays. I think it is a great idea to return the practice. I actually thought about doing this on my own and teaching it to my children. I am writing from the Cincinnati Diocese, so if you could talk to Arch Bishop Schnurr about reviving this practice in our Diocese also, I’d appreciate it. 🙂

    As it is, it’s hard to talk my 13 year old daughter into it when she knows it isn’t required. I’d like her to know the identity of Catholicism I knew growing up in a Boston neighborhood to a hard-nosed Irish family. That is what brought me back after ~22 years of agnosticism for my first communion and confirmation. Identity isn’t just important, it’s crucial. Honestly, what are the arguments against the practice? I haven’t seen many of those that don’t amount to ‘I love steak!’ (coming from my daughter) 🙂

  • Sue in soCal
    August 17, 2011 Reply

    I think we should return to some of these external markers of who we are. Meatless Fridays, Holy Days of Obligation – with the Mass actually on the Holy Day! – are two good starters. Thank you for writing this column and starting the conversation, Archbishop Dolan. Oh, and Fr. Z says, “Hi!”

  • Giovanni A. Cattaneo
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your excellency, here is a short but rather full list that would make an immense difference at the parish level

    1. Ad Orientem (the liturgical east)
    2. Latin
    3. Gregorian chant, polyphony

    In short your Grace please re introduce Catholic tradition and in turn you will see our Catholic identity flourish once more.

  • theophilus
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,
    For all those reasons which you, and many of the above commentators, have mentioned in favor of the proposition, I strongly support the re-imposition of year-round Friday abstinence (even though I hate fish!).
    Canon law is not my strong suit, but if you have the authority to unilaterally impose this salutary discipline in your own archdiocese, please do so immediately; if its re-imposition requires the consensus of the U. S. bishops, please urge it upon them at the first opportunity.
    Friday abstinence may be small fish in light of graver, more pressing, problems that beset the church, but every little bit helps.

  • Catholic
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency!

    Just reintroduce this practice! We never lost it in Lithuania, our Bishops’ Conference confirmed its obligatoriness in 2006 and I am deeply convinced it makes much good to our spiritual life. And You can check out what Your faithful think about it – http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/08/wdtprs-poll-should-the-us-bishops-have-catholics-return-to-meatless-fridays-for-the-whole-year/ (Fr. Z.’s poll launched after reading Your post). I know the readers out there are probably more conservative and Pope-loving than the average, but still, only the orthodox men are the future of the earthly Church.

  • Keith
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    I applaud your post and agree that Catholics need to return to outward disciplines as well as inward reflection. The two are related. I like to say discipline precedes desire. That is, we have to do the outward things faithfully before we begin to feel the interior change.

    Thank you again for this post. I hope many more will follow your lead.

  • Dennis
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Dear Excellency, it would be a wonderful grace if our bishops would lead us back to some of the disciplines and traditions of the not too distant past. Friday abstinence would be a great start. What about returning to fulfilling our Sunday obligation on Sunday and dressing appropriately for it. Frequent confession was always important, remember the lines on Saturday afternoons. The daily family rosary at one time was very common and wouldn’t we all love to see the parish schools return. We may only have to begin to move in that direction and Our Lord without whom we do nothing will pick it up from there. God bless you.

  • Janis
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    I teach RCIA in the Bible Belt; we desperately need to maintain our Cathlocity. In the South, the Church competes with protestants who have cultural appeal to youth. As Catholics, we need to appeal to our youth with our lives, and that includes the EXTERNAL markers of INTERNAL holiness. Yes, bring back meatless Fridays, and catechize the faithful as to why we offer penance to our risen Lord!

  • Brian
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Archbishop makes some great points. And it’s true that external measures without internal conversion are pointless and maybe even counter-productive.

    That being said, it seems like we have little to lose at this point by doing some experimenting.

    One possible option would be to increase the length of fast before receiving communion. Maybe two or three hours instead of just one.

  • Jim
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    You should know if you have read the directive of the time, that Friday penance was never abrogated; rather the Vatican left it up to the individual bishop’s conferences. Unfortunately, in the USA and mostly everywhere else it was just left up to the individual to decide what their penance was. So nowhere did the Church ever say that we do not have an obligation for Friday penance – it is part of the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. The fatal mistake was letting people ‘do their own thing.’ Can you imagine telling a sports team or a school class that they have requirements to study or practice but then give them no guidance or markers, just do it on your own? What a failure.

    Also, Your Excellency, as our shepherd you must be mindful that collective acts bring grace upon the whole body and not just the individual. We are a Mystical Body. While the Church has always promoted individual acts of piety, it has REQUIRED collective acts such as mandatory mass attendance and Friday penance to ensure the faithful meet some minimum level for their own good as well as to bring collective grace upon the whole Mystical Body.

    Also, you mention the markers we used to have, like mandatory mass attendance and confession at least once per year. These requirements have never been lifted, just ignored. It is shameful that our shepherds have not forcefully reminded people that they ignore these requirements at the peril of their eternal salvation (but then salvation is now guaranteed – how old school of me).

    If you look at the traditional orders and groups of lay faithful, you will see vibrancy, a bundle of youngsters and many vocations. These are places where the ‘markers’ you speak of are embraced and followed. There is an ascendancy there and a decline in the wishy washy, cafeteria catholic parishes over which you and your brother bishops preside.

    I beseech you and your brother shepherds to get serious with the faithful and let them know what Our Lord demands of them. It is for the good of the Church and their souls.

    Thank you.

  • Fr. Dan Gallaugher
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency, I hope for and look forward to the day when abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year is again expected of all U.S. Catholics. Generally, there is the value of penance, and of a deeper remembering and identification with the Passion of Christ on every Friday. More particularly, this will reconnect us with a constant practice of the Church throughout the centuries; it is simple, clear, and concrete; it touches us in the important activity of eating; it is visible to others and contrary to the self-indulgent spirit of the age. This change will be wonderful when it comes. Soon, please!

  • Dara
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Sacrifices and sin offerings I desire not but A HEART OF MERCY…sadly lacking in the pre Vatican II Church with all its pomp and circumstances.

  • KathiBee
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    Thank you for this pensive blog entry. I am a post V2 Catholic and our family stopped eating meat on Fridays several years ago when my husband & I stumbled upon the fact that Friday penances (which were never part of our growing up lives as cradle Catholics) were never abolished. We actually have several other friends who engage in this practice as well.

    Yes! We need our Catholic identity. We need Bishops to start us on that path. This seems like a fairly benign & painless place to start. When we support a football team, we wear their apparel, or wave a towel together, or wave wheat or do a gator chop, etc. – all to outwardly show we are cheering on the same side. How much more important to be able to see that person who shares the same faith as us & give us that encouragement to keep running the race.

    Tip of the Biretta to Fr. Z for posting a link to this article, and a tip to you as well, Archbishop.

  • Jessica
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    Thank you for this article. I have felt “lost” recently in exactly this way. Priests wear collars, sisters wear habits, Muslim women wear head scarves. As Fr. John Riccardo once said, you can tell immediately what is important to them. I do not have an obvious identifying marker. My “cross” necklace has lost its meaning..

    I would like to hear your thoughts on how and what we can do to start implementing these things. My faith has resulted in some of the traditional markers, but I’m not sure how “external” or “visible” they really are. For someone who does none of them, where should we start? Perhaps there is something the ancient Christians used to do that would suit our current sensibilities?

    Thank you again.

  • Mars
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    >>> I’m not saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. <<<

    Oh, yeah? Then why the article?

    I say bring back meatless Fridays! Let's start putting the paste back into the tube.

    And bring back the veils, too. When in Russia, I notice that all the Orthodox women wear veils into church.

    And any women in audience with the Pope must wear a veil. How much more then, when we approach Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, His REAL Presence?

    I wait for the liberal moans …

  • Barb
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    Saw this over at Father Z’s blog (and he wants us, his readers, to give you a ‘Hi!’). Good piece of writing!

    I’m of an age to remember meatless Fridays (I’ll be 57 in a few days’ time). My family would eat fried fish-I didn’t like the smell for whatever reason and ate cereal instead.

    ANYWAY….(rolling my eyes)….when your predecessor the late Cardinal John O’Connor was Archbishop, my mother remembered him saying something about abstaining from meat on Friday in reparation for abortion. So she and I started doing that-not meat on that day.

    This is a start-now the Bishops have to go into overtime to reassert our Catholic identity. We ask this of all of you as our shepherds! There are over 50 years of weak catechesis to make up! Stand up and wield those crosiers! Be like Thomas Becket and John Fisher!

    Barb in Upstate NY

  • Fr. Vincent J. Rigdon
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency:
    I am a priest, of your generation. When I was in college, and the requirement of meatless Fridays had recently been dropped, a religious Jewish friend of mine told me sadly that we were making a big mistake. “It’s not so much that the Jews kept the Sabbath,” he said, “but the Sabbath kept the Jews. You Catholics are getting rid of something very important.” In the forty years since our conversation, I have often agreed with his ecumenical observation. Don’t even get me started on Latin for Catholics being like Hebrew for the Jews…

  • dom
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    OK fine and agreed. But I don’t get the part about the toothpaste being out of the tube. Just bring the meatless fridays back! Is this really that complicated??

  • Anne
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    As a parent, I can not and will never say “too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube.” As a wife, I will never say about my marriage, “too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube.” While I might FEEL this way, that is the very moment when extraordinary courage is called for and extraordinary grace is needed. I look back over 25 years of family life and tremble to think what would have happened if I had followed those words. Please do not underestimate how terribly lost so many sitting in the pews for an hour each week feel. Or how a generation, practicing Catholicism lite, because of poor catechesis, are lost to the fullness of the faith. Many are leaving for churches where there is clear direction and challenge. The fact of the Real Presence is frequently unknown and undervalued. Perhaps not at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but in many Catholic churches irreverence is rampant…no genuflecting; deafening talking, laughing and socializing in the church before and after the Mass, beach wear with major cleavage, three minute sermons, and out the door we go.
    Would I tell my child we can’t celebrate your major day…your birthday, because we just celebrated Grandma’s birthday the day before? Please bring back Holy Day obligation even if it falls on a Saturday or Monday. Seriously, we can get there. What if everyone who attended on August 15 was given a 50 dollar gift certificate to the store of their choice. The church parking lot would be full. Why? The secular culture has won.

  • Maria
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency:

    I don’t know whether you have had a chance to read this post at AMERICA MAGAZINE

    More External Markers for Catholics?
    Posted at: Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:28:31 AM
    Author: Sidney Callahan

    I provided multiple comments in defense of your fine article. All of them were deleted. Some referenced Fatima, some Fr. Hardon and others the Blessed Mother herself. All of my comments contained orthodox teachings of the Church. I also provided a link to your article as a truncated view was being presented by Callahan. Deleted.

    WHY IS AMERICA MAGAZINE PERMITTED TO PUBLISH WHAT THEY DO, WITH IMPUNITY? WHEN THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ARE NO LONGER TOLERATED AT A NATIONAL CATHOLIC MAGAZINE, DON’T WE HAVE TO ASK WHY THIS IS SO? WHEN DOES THE HIERARCH SAY, NO, YOU MAY NO LONGER BE PERMITTED TO SCANDALIZE THE FAITHFUL. I THINK THAT ACTIONS OF THIS SORT WOULD GO A LONG WAY IN RE-EVANGELIZATION.

  • Maria
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    The Practice of Penance
    and the Observance of the Friday Fast
    by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

    One aspect of the practice of penance has to do with the proper observance of Fridays. I am afraid there is some misunderstanding on the subject. In 1966 when Pope Paul VI issued his Constitution on Penance, he did not change the essential meaning of Friday as an obligatory, yes, obligatory day of penance to be observed in union with the passion of the Savior. Fridays were, and they remain, mandatory days of penance. A Catholic has no option as to whether he will do penance on every Friday. This is a duty specified by the Church. The only option is the kind of penance one performs.

    At the risk of being technical about this important matter, let me explain. Each member of the Church should be united with his fellow Christians in offering reparation to God for sins. We can choose to do penance on any day and in any way that appeals to us. A work of penance is always pleasing to God. To do penance is a divine law. But besides the divine law, there is an ecclesiastical precept, a law of the Church to practice penance on certain days and in the manner the Church requires. What was formerly given as the second precept of the Church could now be modified to read, “to fast and abstain, or do some act of penance approved by the Church, on the day commanded.” The question may be asked, “In place of abstinence on Friday other forms of penance are mentioned by the Church. Are these of obligation or merely a matter of counsel?” The answer to this question, is that a person who avails himself of the choice of eating meat on Friday is not merely advised to undertake some other form of penance; he is bound to do so.

    Friday penance, therefore, is not a matter of mere counsel, but of actual precept. In plain language, a Catholic commits sin if he or she allows a Friday to pass without an act of penance. In Pope Paul’s Constitution on the subject entitled Poenitemini (which is the imperative of the verb “Repent”), after the Holy Father enumerates the days of penance, he states, “The substantial observance of these days binds gravely.” It may be recalled that there were some questions among commentators after the constitution was issued as to how this phrase should be interpreted. Did it refer to the days taken singly, so that on each Friday there was a grave obligation to penance with due allowance for slightness of matter, or did substantial observance mean that the days were to be taken collectively and only then was the obligation binding under mortal sin? The question has been authentically answered by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, that it does not necessarily refer to each day, but that a person would sin seriously who omitted a part of the Friday penitential observance prescribed as a whole, if the part omitted were notable with regard to either quantity or quality and there was no excusing cause.

    In the light of this teaching of the Church, when would a person be guilty of serious sin by not observing Fridays as days of penance? A practical answer is when he or she had failed to observe a notable number of Fridays, without proportionally grave reason. Many Catholics continue to satisfy their precept of Friday penance by regular abstinence from meat. This is highly commendable. But if they prefer to eat meat on Friday, they are bound in conscience to practice some other, corresponding penance instead. The proper observance of Fridays is critically important for the Church. This is where pastors must instruct the people, and confessors should enlighten their penitents to help them form a correct conscience.

    All of this needed to be said, I believe, in order to clarify what I fear is being neglected, out of ignorance rather than bad will.

  • Maria
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    The Practice of Penance
    and the Observance of the Friday Fast
    by Father John A. Hardon, S.J

    Part II

    Our approach to the practice of penance, however, should not be mainly to avoid transgression. We should look upon penance not as something unpleasant, but as an opportunity to expiate our sins and thus be more closely united with our Lord in His sufferings for the salvation of mankind. It is my belief and fond hope that a recovery of Friday as a weekly day of penance, legislated as such by the Church, will help all of us in the post-conciliar age to rediscover what must be the foundation of our spiritual life. What is this foundation? **That we realize we are all sinners. Our sanctity begins when we admit that we have sinned, because then, Jesus makes sense to us. We realize He has something to save us from**.

    We are sinners, indeed, and therefore we need to make reparation for our sins. How? We need to love God more, by more frequent and fervent prayer and reception of the sacraments. We need to love others more, by being more generous with our time and more willing to sacrifice comfort, convenience, effort, and money to assist those who are in need. We need to suffer more, by doing without things that are not necessary, by giving up luxuries and delicacies, by willingly bearing with discomforts and even some positive pain, in order to make up for our past self-indulgence, and the sins we have committed by seeking our pleasure and ease.

    A final word. We shall grow in virtue and the grace of God, in the degree that we mortify our self will. Every surrender of what I prefer, to what God prefers, is an act of penance, pure and pleasing to the Lord. And this kind of penance is available to everyone who loves much, because he or she has been forgiven much. I suspect that on this point all of us qualify.

    And this is why, righ your Excellency? I think this was the point you were trying to make…

  • Tom Cwiok
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Grace,
    Abstaining from meat on Fridays is a good idea and such that would help the American society fight the obesity problem. Say Mondays and Fridays without meat would be even a better idea…
    I do not think, however, that “external markers” of faith do signify “strong internal faith”. The best example is the case of the Catholic church in Poland. Ever since the a Pole became Pope, Polish Catholics became very conscious about “external markers” of their faith: They put crosses on the walls of public institutions such as schools, began very laud and evangelical about their religion and the Pope. As a result Poland has the largest cathedral build in Europe in 20th century and the world tallest statue of Christ a completed just a few months ago. But in the meantime the unity of the Church deteriorated and now the Catholic church in Poland is divided on the upper levels of its hierarchy (bishops supporting different political options) and on the lower end (with some two million Catholics following a media-savvy priest rather than their bishops). New breakaway priests spring up taking away with their followers from the Church. Everybody says they are true Catholics… Add to it growing numbers of people who abandon the Church in disgust and make no bones about it…
    It appears to me that you need the “externals markers” of faith when the “internal strength” of your faith stops radiating through you…
    One more remark: I remember that before 1989 in the communists Poland, catering and dining services that served public institutions (such as schools ect) by default did not serve meat on Fridays. It was just universally understood that a Friday is not a meat day. And Poland was full time a communist state!

  • Robert Kokron
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    I think it would be marvelous if some of the old “disciplines” of the faith were reinstated. Bravo! People who still practice their faith will welcome the disciplines and penance never hurt anyone.

  • John G.
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    The 82 comments to your blog – External Markers of Our Faith – contain one theme. We, the Catholic Laity, are looking to our Bishops for more leadership than we have received in the past number of years for “internals” within the Church. Those posting their comments are in fact what the advertising profession calls a “focus group”. They are telling you what is bothering them about the current Catholic Church leadership.

    You were selected to be the Archbishop of New York and then elected as President of the USCCB. The gift to you was no happenstance. You were placed in the best position to lead God’s church in the United States out of its current malaise. Please act at the September Meeting of the USCCB and start the process of returning our Church to its former vigor. We need your inspiring and courageous leadership.

    And I will take this opportunity to again request that you act to reinstate the “Prayers After Mass” to beseech God to bless our Nation. God will not act on His own. He needs to hear our congregational prayers asking for His blessings.

    Respectfully.

  • Mike Gallagher
    August 18, 2011 Reply

    I am a life long (and conservative) Catholic and someone who takes my Catholic faith very seriously. I’m very disappointed that the chairman of the USCCB would put this type of focus on such externals at a time when the Church is in such crisis. I very much remember those “good old days” that so many respondents to this blog seem to be nostalgic over and wish to return to. They were by no means “good”. For one thing, the Catholic identity that is referred to just served to separate us from other Christians. In fact back then many Catholics didn’t even recognize that they were Christians. They were more focused on following Church rules and regs than in leading a truly Christian life. In addition, while some of these things on the surface sound like they would be more challenging, in fact it’s just the opposite. Following a set of rules and regulations is nothing but a poor and simplistic substitute compared to the challenge of living the Gospel message and following Jesus in every aspect of life. It takes real commitment and real love to follow Jesus. Anyone can blindly a set of rules. To many people, following those regulations became the be all and end all of their Christian walk. Finally what we see coming out of our Catholic leadership these days totally misses the point that what we need is passion for Christ and love for neighbor to get the Church back on track not a return the closed windows of pre-Vatican II. The Church itself teaches that a Ecumenical Council is one of the highest forms of Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) and all we hear these days is this type of silliness which is in reality just a move to ignore God’s revelation that came to us through Vatican II, close the windows that John XXIII refered to, and go back to the times before Vat II. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings (ie silly rules).” Hosea 6:6

  • Cecilia
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Yes! My family observes the abstinence from meat on Fridays, except when my kids have lunch at their Catholic schools. I’m planning to bring it up–as tactfully as I can–with the schools. I’m not in your diocese, but maybe encouraging the Catholic schools to help would be a step in the right direction.

  • MaryLou Stengel
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Not being a meat eater, there would be no penance but I may refrain from desserts. Most important on Fridays, however, I usually attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, remembering the great sufferings Our Lord experienced for us. I enjoy thinking about St. Anthony holding the Infant Jesus and I also think that Jesus holds me in his arms for a few minutes after receiving the Eucharist. Praise Jesus, His Father, His Holy Mother and the Spirit. We need them all.

  • Notgiven
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Amen! Yes, Eminence, let’s do this! Meatless Fridays are incredibly easy to do…and healthy, too.

    But, we have to catechize, as well. Because actually, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (in #1438) “The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and EACH FRIDAY [emphasis mine] in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

    How many people even know this? We ARE supposed to be doing something to commemorate the death of the Lord EVERY Friday. So, why not recoup/rediscover part of our Catholic heritage and tradition [with a small “t’] and be a sign of Catholic identity and conversion to the world? Going without meat for one day a week isn’t a huge sacrifice for most…except to pride and individualism. We could take what we would have used for meat and donate that to the poor, the homeless, worthy organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul, the Missionaries of Charity, etc, etc. It will help the world know we are Christians by our love, so that even “The heathens themselves [say]: ‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!” Psalm 126:2b. “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead…Show me a faith without works, and I will show you the faith that underlies my works” James 2:17, 18. Amen! Let it be so!

  • Notgiven
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Ah, I should have said Excellency!! Perhaps, it was in joyful anticipation that someday the title (and responsibilities that come with it) will be yours. Mea culpa! I have been a supporter for some time.

  • tom
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    As a post-Vatican II cradle-Catholic, I can assure you that the flock would grow by leaps and bounds if a return to more traditional Catholic values/practices were reinstituted.

    Furthemore, I agree with the comments posted by Giovanni Cattaneo regarding: (1) Ad Orientem (the liturgical east), (2) Latin, and (3) Gregorian chant/polyphony in the mass.

    The younger generation hungers for the old disciplines.

  • Qualis_Rex
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency, this is an incredibly well-thought and poignant post. God bless you and all our GOOD priests. As someone born long after Vatican II, I can tell you I mourn the loss of my visible Catholic heritage. I fast regularly on Fridays and before communion, wear the ashes on my head to work, have rosary hanging in my car, wear a cross or medal around my neck and ALWAYS try to remember that when I am addressing someone in any circumstance (i.e. if they have just cut me off on the road) that however I act they will always know and remember that it came from “some Catholic guy”. And I’m hoping it will be favorable for the most part.

    You have asked all the right questions, so I’m wondering what you, as a shepherd in Church and in a position of authority are doing to address them in your diocese and in the US as a whole. Once again, thank you for this.

  • Jo
    August 19, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    I join the others in applauding you! When I learned several years ago that the Friday abstinence, if not practiced, was supposed to be replaced by another form of penance, I immediately began meatless Fridays again. Now two out of my four adult children are joining me by abstaining and I am continuing to pray that the other two (and my grandchildren) get on board soon!

    Thank you, dear Archbishop! It is so encouraging to see brave bishops….please keep it up! You are in my prayers.

  • Edward
    August 20, 2011 Reply

    His Excellency noted that the following:

    1. “…bishops of England reintroduced the discipline of abstinence from meat on Fridays.

    2. “…all must admit that penance and mortification–essentials of Christian discipleship, according to Jesus Himself–have sadly diminished as a trait of Catholic life.”

    3. “That’s one of the reasons the bishops of Great Britain have reintroduced the discipline, calling their brothers and sisters, faithful to the Gospel, back to external acts of penance, so necessary to fight the reign of sin so evident in our personal lives, in the world, and even within the Church.”

    4. “Scholars of religion–all religions, not just Catholic–tell us that an essential of a vibrant, sustained, attractive, meaningful life of faith in a given creed is external markers.”

    5. “What about us Catholics? But, what are the external markers that make us stand out? Lord knows, there used to be tons of them: Friday abstinence from meat was one of them, but we recall so many others: seriousness about Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; fasting on the Ember Days; saints names for children; confession at least annually; loyal membership in the local parish; fasting for three hours before Holy Communion, just to name a few.”

    6. “But, almost all of these external markers are now gone. Some applaud this; some mourn it. I guess some were helpful, while others were not.”

    7. “Debate it you may. But, the scholars tell us that, without such identifiable characteristics, any religion risks becoming listless, bland, and unattractive. Even the sociologist Father Andrew Greeley, hardly some nostalgic conservative, concluded that the dropping of Friday abstinence was a loss to Catholic identity.”

    8. “I’m not saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. The toothpaste is probably out of the tube.”

    Your Excellency, that is where you lost me.

    You pointed out the tremendous benefit and necessity in regard to religious external markers.

    But incredibly, you then declared that you are not “saying we should re-introduce any or all of these markers. The toothpaste is probably out of the tube.”

    Please take a stand, You Excellency. Please don’t inform us that…

    1. External markers are important to a religion.
    2. That we’ve discarded to our detriment Catholic external markers.
    3. But you’re not saying that we should return to our Catholic markers.
    4. That the toothpaste is out of the tube…in other words, forget about Catholic external markers as it’s too late to return to that which we need desperately to revive Holy Mother Church.

    Edward

  • Dennis
    August 22, 2011 Reply

    yes, I fully support returning to meatless Fridays and the others too such as ember day fasting and 3 hour communion fast. These practices were our idenity as Catholics and they were ripped away from us and this was not only an external idenity but required a sacrifice on our part — to give up something we enjoy to eat on Fridays or to fast from certain foods at other times of the year besides just lent. We as Catholics became too lazy in the practice of our faith , it hardly requires anything from us because our comfort comes first instead of Christ. The Bishops of this great nation must make the effort to restore to us our idenity– yes not all in one shot that would be a shock — as taking them away was but over time all these things need to be restored.
    PS— May I also state that Hold days of obligation NEED to be restored –it’s a whole mess of confusion –a holy day is only a holy day when it falls on certain days of the week but when that day of the week is a Saturday or Monday it is not and —other days are holy days no matter when they occur even if it be a Saturday or Sunday — then you have the Ascension Thursday thing where you can go to this state and the Ascenion is a Day of obligation but you go to another state it is not because they moved it to a Sunday-it’s hard to keep straight and try explaining that to a group of 7th graders in ccd class

  • berenike
    August 22, 2011 Reply

    The bishops of England and Wales, not of Great Britain. Maybe the Scottish bishops will follow suit.

  • Tater Soup
    August 22, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    I loved your stint on 60 minutes over the weekend. They went a little too heavy on your willingness to fully participate in the meal. You are in good company. After all we share an eating tradition with none other than the Resurrected Lord who after first offering peace and his wounds asked the disciples, “Do you have anything to eat?” (Luke 24:41). They offered him some baked fish. And he took it and ate it in front of them. I take it from this story not only are we ill-prepared to meet Jesus Christ but we shouldn’t be surprised if someone is ill-mannered after looking after others needs. It all lends to the authenticity of the story. After the 60 minutes episode I’m sure more will understand your point of view.

    The importance and relationship of fraternal love transmitted through the food we eat can not be ignored, or understated. The unleavened bread we call the Lamb, the image of the fish symbolizing Christ, the wine becoming His Precious Blood, the table becoming the altar. Jesus poking the charcoal fire asking over “flame roasted fish,” Peter, do you love me? All of this tradition and scripture coming about because a married couple were snookered into eating an apple one day in the garden when they should have just said no thank you.

    So Christ like to ask us to be mindful of our appetites and take into account that after Jesus waited on his apostles and washed their feet and had a simple meal of bread and wine He retired to the garden. Where: He sweated blood, was dragged across town, took forty lashes while being mocked and humiliated, carried a cross upon which he hung for hours, he was stabbed and bled out, between two petty thieves all in front of his mother, then descended into hell and after saving the world literally, rises from the grave and before he actually expresses his hunger, extends his blessing and acknowledges fear and doubts in the same friends who recently dozed off on him, denied him, doubted him and deserted him and hearing upon his stated desire to dine…..(don’t miss this) they come up with some baked fish.

    We have all put in a day’s labor and come home to an empty house, no spouse, no kids, no dinner, no laughter, no love but we can always look forward to going to church on Sunday, and being thankful for a loving God and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Jesus knows all about the rewards waiting for us, just as I am sure He knew he didn’t save the world for a piece of baked fish. A community eating fish on Friday can remind the world were still working here, and so is He.

  • Mitch
    August 23, 2011 Reply

    Please do bring back meatless Fridays. The unity of seeing another Catholic getting a fish sandwich in a restaraunt on Friday is an invisible bond that we all share in and reminds us of our Faith. It could even lead to a “Hi” how are you type of familiarity. Yes, please bring it back in the way England and Wales have. Something really needs to be done. People do not do their own thing, the majority don’t anyways. We need guidance through disciplines that are common to all of us and connect us together. As is stated in the article. Every other Faith has highly visible markers. Never, ever because of my charity has anyone told me “Oh you must be a Catholic”. Everyone doing different things just doesn’t make the grade, the few who do. It is not an external unifier.

  • Emmi
    August 25, 2011 Reply

    Your Excellency,

    I think your writing is right to the point. We need to reinstall some credibility to our faith. I get pretty often confronted by my fellow students in a secular university with question:”So what do you do? I mean what is it that makes you Catholics different from Protestants??” It would sound pretty bad if I would say: Well, there used to be all these rules, but we no more observe them.. Instead I talk about the Mass, about the Rosary, and about the Holy Mother Church. None of my family or my husband’s family is named after a Saint. I think its part of the beauty of tradition, and we did name our daughter after the first female Doctor of the Church. To conclude I think the words of St. Francis of Assisi are pretty much to the point as well:”Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words.”

  • Fr William Bauer
    August 25, 2011 Reply

    I matriculated (good word. it shows I am able to spell) from Catholic school to public school (in 1956 om northern California) as a high school Junior. It impressed me that even the public school served meatless lunches in the cafeteria on Fridays. There was no outrage, of course, as that was just the way it was done.

 

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