Monday, June 30, 2014

Fishy? I Think Not

[Somewhat over a year ago, due to failure of proper functioning of String Too Short to Tie, I transported STSTT over to Bob Warr's blog for a few weeks.  Most of the faithful followers came along, so for them this is rehash.  But I thought there might be some who missed it then and would enjoy it now.]

I wish to express my appreciation to Bob Warr for allowing  me to  use his blog as a platform for my posts for an undetermined length of time.  Thanks, Bob.



Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not a theological treatise, nor is its intent to make fun of anyone’s practice of faith.

Fish on Friday

We protestants who lived north of the Arkansas River chided (read: made fun of) our Catholic friends who would drive south of the river on Fridays to partake of their evening meal, for there they felt free of conscience to eat red meat. It was widely believed that Catholics were to abstain from meat on Fridays as an integral part of the practice of their faith. Failure to do so made the offender a sinner in the eyes of fellow Catholics and a hypocrite in the eyes of the protestants.

The trip across the river had its roots in some medieval history. Because of their service in the Crusades, Pope Urban II granted a dispensation to Spanish counts allowing them relief from the meatless Friday rule. In 1571, Pope Pius V extended the dispensation to all lands under Spanish rule. Hence, Spain’s colonies in the New World were excepted.1 Even though Spain had long since lost her rule in the New World and even through domination by various peoples and right on into the twentieth century American world in which I lived, the observance continued in those geographical areas originally dominated by Spain. In the West, the northern boundary of Mexico was the Arkansas River, and hence the Catholics of Texas, New Mexico, and a portion of southern Colorado considered themselves under the dispensation of Pope Pius V.

In 1951, the faithful in the area were advised that indeed they should follow the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays, along with the rest of the Catholic world. Much confusion exists to this day, and Catholics generally believe that to eat meat on Friday is not sinful, but that Friday should be a day of penance as clarified by the Holy See in 1966.2



Grace said...

I shouldn't say this but when my father owned a deli there would be homemade clam chowder on Friday - and my father was amused that the faithful had no idea it was made with beef broth...and then there was the sudden "It's Friday!" recollection and the already sprinkled on top bacon bits had to be buried in the potato salad.

Sharkbytes said...

And yet, we were not Catholic and always had fish on Friday just because my dad loved it. I didn't get that gene.

Sharkbytes said...

PS- very interesting

vanilla said...

Grace, a case of "what you don't know won't hurt you."

Sharkey, like your father, I like fish, though I'll eat it any day of the week.

Pearl said...

Catholicism is a complicated thing!


KC Bob said...

Is lobster counted as "fish"? Did Jesus eat shellfish? Inquiring minds want to know.

vanilla said...

Pearl, most belief systems are complicated.

KC Bob, I don't consider lobster to be "fish," but I like it! I don't know the answer to the second question, but I suspect he did not, since it seems to be proscribed by Levitical law; and I believe he would have been observant. Although he did heal on the Sabbath, did he not?

KC Bob said...

The Catholic church in our area has shrimp boil dinner on Fridays in Lent. LOL, seems like they must be stretching the definition of fish.

vanilla said...

KC Bob, I had to give myself time to finish laughing after I read your comment. I salivate for cold boiled shrimp! Yet I agree: I believe the definition of "fish" would be stretched a good bit to include shrimp within it.

If I'm ever in the area on a Friday, perhaps we could wander over to the church for some tasty crustaceans!