The first time I heard the term "fish eater", it amused me, and brought me the mental image of poor fishermen living in Europe eighty years ago, somberly eating fish stew... sitting at a scarred wooden table in a cottage with his wife, their nine children, by the light of oil lamps while the cold wind blew through the cracks of their rustic home. THAT was a 'fish-eater'. But now I know the 'real' meaning of this term. "Fish eater" means, 'Catholic'.
The Urban Dictionary reads: "a slang term for Catholics, so attributed because Catholics eat fish on Fridays during the season of Lent."
Do we? Most Catholics I know don't "do" meatless Fridays any more. I personally have only "done" meatless Fridays for about three years, because to be honest I didn't think the Church "did that" anymore. Funny how a little reading can enlighten you. :) Meatless Fridays are NOT just for Lent.
Before Vatican II, the Code of Cannon Law said:
"Can. 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or some other food according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1253: The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.
What the U.S. Bishops Have Said:
Here’s what the document, Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence, says about abstaining from meat on Fridays:
22. Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified.
23. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ. (What this reads 'to me', is that EVERY FRIDAY of the year, is a 'little' Good Friday.
24. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. (READ: first place to abstinence from flesh meat.) We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations:
We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became, especially in times of persecution and of great poverty,no mean evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Church.
We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.
A little FYI... the 'push' has started to bring back meatless Fridays 'officially' in the United States.
In my home, we are fish-eaters. I have fish eater friends, and one of my dearest friends is a brand new fish-eater. :) Fifty years ago, it MEANT something to be Catholic. We were set apart. Now you can't tell us from anyone else. We need to get that back. We are 'in' the world, but not 'of' the world. At one time, Catholics were pro life, pro traditional marriage. Now we have Catholics who seem to think they can pick and choose what the Church teaches. That's not being a Catholic... that's the "Church of YOU//Your FEELINGS//Your Opinion", ... which frankly, does not matter one whit.
Jesus does not change. The Church does not change. It is the people.. who have changed the church, or what they have accepted or allowed. We have GOT to remember WHO WE ARE!! When someone looks at us, do they recognize we are a Catholic by our actions... our example... how we live our life/treat others? Or can they tell only because you're wearing your Guadalupe tee shirt or your scapular is peeking out? Or do they see kindness.. someone who serves others and puts others first? Do they see someone who takes a stand for what is right, instead of what is popular/accepted/politically correct? (Worth noting here that Jesus was NOT "politically correct".) :)
I challenge you all... BE 'that Catholic'. BE set apart. Make every Friday a 'little' Good Friday.. Remember HIS Passion.. and join the growing numbers of Catholics who are meatless on ALL Fridays of the year. I truly believe it helps us feel connected to each other - and to be a witness to our faith.
Be a fish-eater. :)