why do we eat fish during lent

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Part of the Christian Lenten tradition is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and instead chow down on fish. Hence the. But why are some Christians allowed to eat fish, but not meat? There are several answers to that question. Some are theological justifications, others are the result of economics or historical quirks, while one is pure myth. Before we get into all that, a reminder that 36 local churches/organizations are competing for the title of. We invite you to vote in four regional polls daily through March 10 to determine the four finalists. A very brief history of Lenten fasting Since Jesus was believed to have been crucified on a Friday, Catholics used to abstain from meat on Fridays year-round. Meat used to be more expensive than fish, and was therefore considered a luxury. But the second Vatican Council of the early 1960s loosened that practice. According to Sister Elaine Berkopec with Ursuline College, Lent is a "special penitential season, Catholics again are to abstain from meat on Fridays and on Ash Wednesday as a penitential practice. "
A secret papal pact that's fishy business One of the most widely circulated theories is a medieval pope made a pact with some fishermen buddies - not the fishers-of-men kind but literal fishermen - to boost their business. According to some variations of the tale, the pope even owned a fish company. So, to make sure business was booming, he ordered Catholics must eat fish on Fridays during Lent. Warm-blooded animals are a no-no, but cold-blooded fish are a go Technically, it's the flesh of "warm-blooded animals" that's off the table.


But fish are considered cold-blooded, and so they're fair game. By that logic, reptiles such as lizards or crocodiles also are appropriate Lenten food. In fact, the Archbishop of New Orleans regarding Lent that it is indeed OK to eat the tasty green creature since "it is considered seafood. " In Latin America, the church has declared it's alright to. Roman Catholics in for Lent. And in the 17th century, a bishop in Quebec, and therefore fair game for Lenten Fridays. Fish is more modest - and less sexy - than meat According to the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, meat tastes too good and is to consume while you're supposed to be fasting. Aquinas : "Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust. Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the Earth. " Lust is pretty frowned upon by the church in general, and especially during Lent, since it's one of the seven deadly sins. In England, it was about economics Remember that debunked myth about a pope who wanted to prop up the fishing industry by forbidding meat during Fridays in Lent? It turns out in England something similar actually did happen. When Henry VIII parted ways with the church because he wanted to separate from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and do all those bad things meat apparently inspires people to do, with Anne Boleyn, he established the Church of England. As a result, and fell out of favor. But England's an island, where lots of people were fishermen at the time. So eating less fish was actually a huge economic problem for lots of people.


As a result, when Henry's son, Edward VI, took the throne, he to boost the business of local fisheries. The past six Fridays, Catholics observing Lent have skipped sirloin in favor of fish sticks. Why? Legend has it that, centuries ago, a medieval pope with connections to Europes fishing business banned red meat on Fridays to give the industry a boost. That story isnt true. Sunday school teachers have a more theological answer: Jesus fasted for 40 days and died on a Friday. Catholics honor both occasions by making a small sacrifice: avoiding animal flesh one day out of the week. That explanation is dandy for a homily, but it doesnt explain why red meat and poultry are targetedand why its perfectly okay to eat seafood. For centuries, the reason evolved with the fast. In the beginning, some worshippers only ate bread. But by the Middle Ages, they were avoiding meat, eggs, and dairy. By the 13th century, the meat-fish divide was firmly establishedand Saint Thomas Aquinas gave a lovely answer explaining why: sex, simplicity, and farts. In Part II of his, Aquinas wrote: Fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust. Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products. Put differently, Aquinas thought fellow Catholics should abstain from eating land-locked animals because they were too darn tasty.


Lent was a time for simplicity, and he suggested that everyone tone it down. It makes sense. In the 1200s, meat was a luxury. Eating something as decadent as beef was no way to celebrate a holiday centered on modesty. But Aquinas had another reason, too: He believed meat made you horny. For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods. There you have it. You can now blame those impure thoughts on a beef patty. (Aquinas might have had it backwards. According to the American Dietetic Association, red meat doesnt boost seminal matter. Men trying to increase their sperm count are generally advised to on meat. However, red meat does improve, so its give-and-take. ) Aquinas gave a third reason to avoid meatit wont give you gas. Those who fast, Aquinas wrote, are forbidden the use of flesh meat rather than of wine or vegetables, which are flatulent foods. Aquinas argued that flatulent foods gave your vital spirit a quick pick-me-up. Meat, on the other hand, boosts the bodys long-lasting, lustful a religious no-no. But why isnt fish considered meat? The reason is foggy. Saint Pauls first letter to the Corinthians, for one, has been used to justify fasting rules.


Paul wrote, There is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds (15:39). That distinction was possibly taken from Judaisms own dietary restrictions, which separates fleishig (which includes land-locked mammals and fowl) from pareve (which includes fish). Neither the Torah, Talmud, or New Testament clearly explains the rationale behind the divide. Its arbitrary, anyway. In the 17th century, the Bishop of Quebec ruled that. In Latin America, its okay to eat capybaraapparently on Lenten Fridays. Churchgoers around Detroit can guiltlessly munch on every Friday. And in 2010, the Archbishop of New Orleans gave alligator the thumbs up when he declared, . Thanks to King Henry VIII and Martin Luther, Protestants dont have to worry about their diet. When Henry ruled, fish was one of Englands most popular dishes. But when the Church refused to grant the King a divorce, he broke from the Church. Consuming fish became a pro-Catholic political statement. Anglicans and the Kings sympathizers made it a point to eat meat on Fridays. Around that same time, Martin Luther declared that fasting was up to the individual, not the Church. Those attitudes hurt Englands fishing industry so much that, in 1547, Henrys son King Edward VIwho was just 10 at the timetried to reinstate the fast to improve the countrys fishing economy. Some Anglicans picked the practice back up, but Protestantswho were strongest in Continental Europedidnt need to take the bait.

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