I recently had one of my teen sons ask me, "Mom, WHY? Why can't I eat meat on Friday's? This is torture!" Being that I have thirteen children, I figured I had better address this question, ASAP!
Here is my answer:
1) Dear son, Jesus sacrificed his flesh for us on Good Friday. Note...that is FRIDAY. We do not eat flesh (meat) in HIS honor.
While flesh is prohibited...animal products are not (milk, eggs, cheese, butter....plenty of good nourishing things, you won't pass out, son)
When we deny the cravings of our bodies, we are honoring Jesus who practiced the ultimate form of self-denial when he gave his body for us on the cross.
Seriously...does that cheeseburger even compare?
2) Dear son, abstinence is a tradition, in fact, it is one of the OLDEST Christian traditions!
“From the first century, the day of the crucifixion has been traditionally observed as a day of abstaining from flesh meat (‘black fast’) to honor Christ who sacrificed his flesh on a Friday,” according to “The Catholic Source Book.”
No, you won't find it in the bible and you need not. Long before the New Testament, there was teaching and tradition. As Catholics we are not Sola Scriptura.
Paul illustrated what tradition is: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. . . . Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed" (1 Cor. 15:3,11). The apostle praised those who followed Tradition: "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
The first Christians "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching" (Acts 2:42) long before there was a New Testament. From the very beginning, the fullness of Christian teaching was found in the Church as the living embodiment of Christ, not in a book. The teaching Church, with its oral, apostolic tradition, was authoritative. Paul himself gives a quotation from Jesus that was handed down orally to him: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
There are a million more things I can say about this...but..it's about the core reasons for doing what we do as Catholic's. You can have your cheeseburger, tomorrow. For now, suck it up...you are BLESSED to be a Catholic, son....BLESSED! Love, Mom.
Love and Blessings, Wendy C.
"Healing Mind, Body & Soul"
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Note: Up until 1966, church law prohibited meat on all Fridays throughout the entire year. The new law was promulgated in 1983 in the revised Code of Canon Law, which states: “Abstinence [is] to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Canon 1251).
“All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence” (Canon 1252).
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops extended this law to include all Fridays in Lent.