The Bishops of England and Wales Reimpose Friday Abstinence
In a surprising development, but one I welcome, the bishops of England and Wales have decided to reimpose the obligation of Abstinence on all Fridays of the year. Currently, the English and Welsh church only obligates Catholics to fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Of course, the general law of the Catholic Church is that all Fridays of the year are penitential days, but each Episcopal conference has been allowed to determine how that should be exercised. In the U.S., there is abstinence on all the Fridays of Lent, with the extra obligation of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All Catholics are encouraged to abstain every Friday, but not required.
Of course, many people assume that there is a requirement to eat fish, but that is just because people envision dinner as being a plate with a protein (meat or fish), a starch (potato or rice) and a vegetable. So, if there isn't meat, there must be fish! (Hence the old nickname for Catholics--"Fisheaters".)
Those who have eaten as vegetarians realize that's a very limited menu planning option. There are many ways of arranging a meal,
For all those who are encouraged by this news from England to begin observing meatless Fridays as a penance (my family has also been doing this for many years), I would just like to remind you that meatless does not mean you have to eat fish!
Most of the monastic orders were traditionally vegetarian most of the year, and there are scores of recipes available. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches also observe abstinence throughout the year (on Wednesdays and Fridays), and there are cookbooks available. For those looking to take the plunge, here are a few suggestions.
From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook by Brother Victor D'Avila-Latourrette.
Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by the same author.
The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking: Essential Meatless Recipes for the Home Cook by the same author.
A Lenten Cookbook for Orthodox Christians
A Fasting Cookbook by Rita Hanna, a downloadable Word file hosted by St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland, CA.
Hat tip to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog WDTPRS