Random Thoughts

1. My kids have been asking me a lot why fish is okay to eat on Fridays but not meat.  Why is fish not considered meat (or flesh)? Apparently, this comes from Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) who said the following:

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, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds. 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.

According to the linked article, Aquinas also believed  Christ offered his flesh for our us on the wood of the cross. Since Christ gave us his flesh, we also give up flesh meat.

While I won’t be sharing all of this with my kids yet, the fact that meat tends to offer greater pleasure than fish (especially to my kids) and more so that Christ offered his flesh for our sins, will make sense to them.

As to why fish is not considered meat, it is because fish are not warm blooded.  This seems to be the consensus outside of the Church as well.

2.  I recently finished reading an excellent book about Saint Thérése for girls.  It is called Saint Thérése and the Roses.  This books paints her and her families life as quite idyllic, which it wasn’t, but for young girls especially it is an excellent starting point in teaching her Little Way.

Vision Book Series

3.  While searching for an image of the St Thérése book, I discovered there is also a song by the same name.  By Jackie Wilson:

4. For those looking for meatless meals for Lent, here are some ideas.

5.  The same woman also writes Shower of Roses.  She has some wonderful ideas to do with your family during this season (really you should check out her whole site.  I’ll likely be linking it a lot).  While late, I plan on setting up her Lenten Sacrifice Beans today.

6. In the same vein and keeping with St. Thérése, in the book above I discovered that St Thérése carried a string of beads in her pocket everyday.  Her mother gave her these beads, called Sacrifice or Good Deed Beads, to help her keep track of the sacrifices she made for God each day.  I really like this idea (for me and my kids) and I found out how to make one of these here.


11 thoughts on “Random Thoughts

  1. I also wondered why fish is ok on Fridays when other kinds of meat aren’t. Thank you for finding that explanation! Also, this part especially struck me:

    Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds.

    While I stopped eating meat on Fridays (not just for Lent, but every Friday) a while back, I’ve still been drinking milk and eating eggs and cheese, thinking they didn’t count as meat. Looks like I’ve got more to cut out from now on. Thanks again for finding that Stingray.


  2. Makes sense. I’m not too fond of changes being made to the old ways though, particularly when things are being “relaxed.” If retaining a source of protein is the only reason they relaxed that, then it should be alright with them if someone just finds a different source of protein for those days? Nuts have lots of protein (from what I’ve heard), so eating those, or better yet, a massive spoonful of peanut butter (yummmm) should do it. Like, it wouldn’t be against Church teachings if someone chose to replace milk etc. with peanut butter etc. on Fridays in an attempt to do what would be most pleasing to God, would it?


  3. Another thing to keep in mind is another part of church teaching on the subject.

    As you look at salvation history, more foods become able to be eaten by man. When we were created and within the garden of Eden, man did not partake of flesh. However, with the entering of death and sin to the world, that changed. Some church fathers believe that man was able to partake of meat afterwards not as falling, but as a fift from God to give men strength. For now he must toil to reap reward from the earth, and through such toil he requires greater strength and must be given such strength from the flesh of animals and of life. Thus, the Friday abstinence, and all others, are to remind us of God’s great love, that he has loved us so much that he gives us gifts to overcome our own weaknesses, despite the fact that it is our just punishment. He shows mercy and adds to his glory in one act.

    In this light, one can also look at a loosening of rules of fast and abstinence by the church in what I would consider a… healthier light. Rather than only mourn that the state of the church requires such, one can be thankful that our weaknesses in the face of ever increasing trials is taken into account by our holy Mother, the church. Thus, while those still able (or still in need of stricter fasting and abstinence for salvation) are encouraged to do so, the laity would be advised to remember we undergo greater and greater trials as time goes on, leading towards the end times, and must be strengthened to be able to face those with courage and fortitude.


  4. Well, Chad just gave a far more eloquent and full answer than I am able to. I’m hesitant of changes to the old way, as well. But I think we can become scrupulous in that hesitancy and we have to be careful of that (Not that you are, Feminine. That it could be a tendency for all of us who are more drawn to Tradition). That is why I think we must do our best to follow the spirit of Lent. That will be different for each of us and according to what we need. For example, I don’t make my children fast, but on fasting days, I won’t let them eat sweets or eat very much (or anything, depending) between their meals in an effort to try to teach them the spirit. This way, when they are older, fasting will make more sense to them.


  5. Thank you Chad; you have quite a gift for explaining spiritual things very eloquently, as Stingray said. That makes a whole lot of sense and makes that particular “relaxing” of an old rule not seem bad after all, but rather good. It reminds me of the very first time I ever fasted. I was a brand new Christian, and took fasting very literally (as in, zero food or drink, apart from water). After just one day, I was so weak that I couldn’t even see straight and had to crawl through the house because I could barely even stand up without feeling like I would fall over and/or pass out. (I have a very high metabolism, so I suspect it would’ve been like most people going for at least a few days without a bite of food). Lesson learned; now when I fast I just place very strict limits on myself, but don’t give up food 100%.

    Stingray, that’s a good point about following the spirit of Lent; at the same time, the thing about following the spirit of Lent is part of why I wondered about it being good to give those things up on Fridays. What I mean is, if I’m understanding the spirit of it correctly (and I very well might not be), the giving up of meat on Fridays is about sacrifice, right? Just speaking for my own case here, YMMV: I already don’t eat a lot of meat because it’s expensive. I eat some, but not everyday. So I typically get most (70 – 80% -ish) of my protein from milk, eggs, and cheese because they are far less expensive. So doing without meat one particular day a week is more of a slight inconvenience at times than an actual sacrifice for me. But giving up those additional things one day a week would be an actual sacrifice for me.

    I hope I’m not coming across as argumentative here because I don’t mean to be; I’m just trying to figure this out. This is the first time I’ve truly participated in Lent (the Protestant churches I’ve been to before didn’t do so) and I’m kindof learning how to do it the right way as I go.


  6. Feminine (It seems strange calling you that. Would you prefer something different?),

    You’re not coming across as argumentative at all.

    I think following the spirit of Lent would be what you would consider an actual sacrifice. If giving those things up would be more of one, then I would suggest to do that. But let’s say you’re sick one Friday and it would make you feel like you’re going to pass out again if you gave those things up, then I would say for that Friday you would sacrifice what you could while still trying to stay in the spirit without making yourself sicker. That is my take on it.


  7. Stingray,

    Yeah, it feels a bit strange to me too, but that’s ok. While my first preference would just be my first name, I much more prefer to keep anonymous over the internet; so my next preference is FBNF just because it’s the nickname I’ve gotten used to around here. But whatever you want to call me is fine really.

    And thanks, I think your suggestion is a keeper! Unless I am officially told to do differently by someone in a position of authority in the Church, I think that’s what I’m gonna do.


  8. If you want to add a little bit of humour and contrast to the lesson, you could mention that nobles in medieval times were so hungry for meat that they would call ducks, swans, otters, etc “fish”, just so they could eat meat! http://dolly.jorgensenweb.net/nordicnature/?p=1568

    Then encourage discussion about why this isn’t good, whether it defeats the purpose of Lent and whether (and why!) these people thought they could deceive God.


  9. Hahaha. I didn’t know the nobility did that. Talk about living up to “easier than a camel through a keyhole”.

    On a side note, I do know the church did allow waterfowl exceptions in specific areas where fish was not available and the populace would be unable to eat at all. Mostly for Lent, as a mere day of every Friday isnt a big deal too skip and only do bread or vegetables.

    Still… inch, meet mile.


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