It’s lent. I wondered when it would happen and it happened on Friday. I was asked the big question of lent. Maybe you’ve been asked this question. Maybe you’ve asked it of yourself.
“Why do we not eat meat on Fridays.”
It seems like a very silly rule. If it is important, then why only on Fridays during lent?
I’ve come up with lots of good reasons over the years.
- It puts us in solidarity with most of the world’s population, who cannot eat meat anytime.
- It reminds us that meat is a luxury item.
- It strengthens our identity as Catholics.
- It simplifies our diet and deepens our appreciation of creation.
- It harkens back to the dietary laws in the Old Testament
- Friday is the day Jesus died and Fridays have been days of penance from the earliest days of the church, and still are.
- Those Friday fish fries are just so much fun.
But when my daughter asked me this question on Friday I had a new insight. It is an arbitrary rule. Maybe that’s the point. It is out of my control. I didn’t choose it. It is not a rule of my making. My other lenten penances are “mine.” I chose them. This one I did not. It’s like the weather. It just is what it is and I can choose to accept it joyfully, grumble about it, or even ignore it… but I can’t make it go away.
That made me think about all the things in life that I can’t control. How do I react to them? Maybe this rule about not eating meat on Fridays is teaching me, just a little, how to let go of my need to control, my need to be in control. Maybe its teaching me I’m not God.