Friday, April 24, 2009


Food on Fridays

March 28, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, Jesus fed thousands. It was a sign of how he would himself become the Bread of Life, true life for those who believe in him.

We cannot become literally other Christs. [Though by ordination a priest is, when he celebrates Mass for example, alter Christus... ] We can be transformed by his life and be instruments of his life for others. Just as he accomplished salvation through his supreme sacrifice on the cross, we can fulfill our Christian mission through sacrifice. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, fast and care for the poor as types of sacrifice.

Maybe we separate these three activities into distinct functions. Jesus drew them together in feeding the multitude. He took the meager food of the apostles, prayed over it and distributed it to the poor. On Calvary, after a day with no food or drink, he gave his life for us sinners, all the while praying to his Father.

We can do the same in a very simple way. I am inviting the Catholic people of the Diocese of Steubenville to resume the practice of abstaining from meat on all Fridays throughout the year, but with a twist. I am asking that this be not only a penitential practice but also an experience of prayer and service. This can happen by connecting abstinence with our witness to the sacredness of human life. [St. Pope Leo the Great (+461) in his preaching during penitential times always connected fasting to almsgiving. In the ancient Church fasting was not just penitential. It was a dimension of the Christian’s works of mercy.]

The Church teaches, in harmony with divine revelation, that every human life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death. Yet, abortion is widely accepted and legalized. Wars abound. Suicide bombings, terrorist attacks and public shootings kill innocent people. Domestic violence, human trafficking, racism, assisted suicide, capital punishment and so many other acts and attitudes degrade what is made in the image of God.

We must continue to teach the truth about life without ceasing and without hesitancy. But actions often speak louder than words. Abstinence from meat on Fridays, for the sake of life, is one such action, especially when done in solidarity with one another. [Remember the distinction in law between abstinence (giving up certain foods) and fasting (cutting back the quantity of food). Both are tools of discipline.]

Abstinence is a form of fasting—a discipline of the body. It can remind us of the beautiful gift of life that God has given to us personally. It can also remind us and each other of how sacred everyone else’s life is. As a public witness, it can be a service to those whose life and human dignity are at risk.

Next to Sunday, Friday has always been a special day in the Catholic Church for prayer. [We Catholics were famous for not eating meat on Fridays. It was part of our identity both for ourselves and Catholics (ad intra) and for the rest of the non-Catholic world (ad extra).] Offering prayer for life—praising God as the source of life and begging him to turn away threats to life—is a fitting addition to abstinence. This prayer can be in the parish setting, in the family or alone. Abstinence itself can be offered consciously as a prayer for life and in reparation for sins against life.

Abstinence can also be service if we eat simple meatless food and donate the financial savings to the poor or to pro-life efforts. [Which would require people a) to do this consciously and b) keep some sort of record. For example, when preparing supper calculate the difference in the cost of the meal if the, say, pork chops were substituted with, say, scrambled eggs.]

The resumption of year-round abstinence in the Diocese of Steubenville will begin after this coming Easter, one week after Good Friday (April 17). Although the practice will not be a requirement of law, and failing to keep it will not constitute a sin, I hope every one who is old enough to receive Holy Communion and well enough to come to church will take it seriously. Our parishes, schools and organizations should provide meatless food at their Friday activities.

Until 1966, Catholics around the world were required to abstain from meat on all Fridays. That year, Pope Paul VI determined that the rules for fasting and abstinence should be set by the various episcopal conferences according to local circumstances. At the same time, he reminded us that doing penance was commanded by Christ himself and is an important part of our spiritual life. [More on this below… a lot more…]

The bishops of the United States eliminated mandatory abstinence from meat on Fridays except during Lent. However, they insisted that all Catholics should observe some penitential practice on Fridays, in remembrance of the Lord’s passion and death, and they highly recommended continuing abstinence from meat. [But…. wait for the coin to drop…. Do they? Do Catholics actually do penance?]

So, the present challenge to the people in our diocese is not really radical. It is a call to what many if not most of us have put aside. And it is a way for us, like the apostles, to give up a little food and help Jesus feed the world. [It’s the Catholic thing to do!]

May God bless you and your sacrifice. May he protect the life he has so lovingly fashioned.

Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon
Bishop of Steubenville

Abstaining from meat on fridays is difficult for me, since work provides my meals, and the vegetarian entree is a salad. Usually not enough for me, which yes, I realize is the point; it's supposed to be a noticeable, and meaningful, sacrifice. It's a simple enough one to do, and easy enough to remember- but i don't wanna! I guess it'll require more thought, perhaps packing a lunch on Fridays. Problem with that being that I've got Stargate with Richard right beforehand, so temperature-sensitive items won't be happy. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, maybe?

I didn't know about the penance thing, though, that it was still required- I just thought Mike was awesome for holding meatless Fridays year-round of his own volition. Definitely something to think about, though.

e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Space Marines, ahoy!

So I got to play Warhammer 40k against Greg today- pitted my Dark Angels against his Eldar. 1500 points, well, I had 1440 and Greg had about 1450, but we called it close enough. He had 30 snipers, essentially, and I had 40+ well-rounded troops. I won the day by softening him up with rocket launchers, and then charging in to keep them occupied in melee.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fr. Z found a good one.

Under another entry commenter "Allan" posted the following, which is worthy of consideration on its own. My emphases and comments.

I’ve been wondering where to post this, but under the theme of “brick by brick” I think there’s a lesson here in not undoing the foundation by pulling out the bricks. [Right. Sometimes people, perhaps in their zeal, harm their causes.]

I took my 14 year old son to his first EF Mass on Easter Sunday. [You know the old phrase about how many chances we have to make a first impression, right?] We sat off by ourselves and were engaged in a quiet pre-Mass discussion (whispers) about the divinity of Christ (14 year olds have a lot of questions, and parents take these opportunities as they come given teenage attention spans).

Well, from long across the church this lady approaches us, speaks directly to my son telling him to “Shhhh!” and hands him a pre-printed card telling the reader it is inappropriate to talk in church and to “Be quiet!” [Wow…. I would be tempted to buy a couple of cases of those, actually. But this delivery was not very well thought through.] Now this lady was nowhere near enough to have actually been able to hear us talking, but clearly lived for the opportunity to hand out these cards and assume control of the church and the people in it. Not exactly a “welcoming” atmosphere.

I explained to my son afterwards that:

1) As his father, it’s my standards of public deportment he needs to worry about, not what some stranger in a church thinks
2) This person was not speaking on behalf of anyone in authority (i.e. was not clergy, a rector, etc.)
3) There was nothing inappropriate about the topic or quiet nature of our conversation
4) One person does not a congregation make: there were a great many people there (well, not too many) who did not (apparently) take exception to us, and the whole congregation should not be judged by the actions of one old lady

I think we should be careful not to remove any bricks during the construction. IMO.

There are a lot of good points to discuss here, so long as you are very careful and really think about what you are tempted to post as a comment.

My comment:

I have been attending Mass with my ex-girlfriend since before she was my ex. My first few times, I had no idea what was going to occur, and so I had questions; I made certain to ask them at times, and volumes, that would not disrupt those around me. However, if I had been treated as the poor child was, given a card and rudely shushed, when I was trying to gain a greater appreciation for what I was witnessing- I would have walked out then and there, and likely not returned. I would not have had the chance for salvation I do now; the holier-than-thou (I believe the term appropriate here) woman would have chased me away from everything. If your prayers, meditation, and faith is such a shaky thing that a potential/recent convert attempting to learn more about the faith they are approaching can disrupt it… does the problem really lie with them?

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well, Lent is over, so now I'm not sure what to talk about- I'm thinking about analyzing the Sunday Gospel readings, and their connections to the other readings. Probably post more about other random stuff, too. So no, I haven't forgotten about this- I simply don't know what to say next.

Glad I didn't go with my original idea to post several blogs, about religion, WoW, etc. I don't even have the content to fill up one.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Five About Holiness - Friday

"Do you have a special person you can talk to about anything?"

I suppose Leah is the closest I have. Greg would be second. Greg, however, I really can't talk to about romantic woes- and Leah I have trouble talking to about woes involving her. Other dilemmas I can bring to her no problem, and she'll give me her insight on the situation. It's becoming harder to bring things to her, though, because sometimes I just can't reach her. I tried talking to her about what she was doing, how unfair it was to Tony, but I couldn't get her to realize what she was doing to him was wrong. She insisted that because there was nothing romantic about it on her side, there was nothing improper to her behavior- and I wasn't strong enough to take a stand myself. I made a choice, but it was the easy choice... and I'm not certain it was the right one. But it's the one I'll stick to until something else changes it- I doubt Tony will be as copacetic as she is. And then she said that she would make him see there was nothing wrong with it. That honestly smacks of hubris- that she was so sure she was right, even though she said she gave consideration to his feelings... that no matter how he stood, she would make him be on her side of it. And she, after that deliberation, decided not to tell him- but not to hide it from him. That's dangerously close to lying by omission.

I tried to make her see that, but she wouldn't. She initially tried to guilt trip me about it, in a quiet way, but quit trying to do that- then simply said she would abide by my decision. The decision wasn't the point- trying to get her to see what she was doing was. But I suppose it's always been a lost cause. I love her, but I can't reach her- and her pride keeps her from seeing her errors. :/

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Five about Holiness - Thursday

Can you choose to love someone today who is hard to love?

Yes- I will choose to love my callers, and do everything in my power to help them- even if they are not charitable themselves. They are, after all, my neighbors for a short time- and we didn't get award-winning customer service by being jerks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wow. Touching.

So the lady who is always at inquiry laid out a pamphlet of common Catholic prayers at every place this week. I already had one, and said so- so she instead got out a blessed medal of St. Benedict and gave that to me instead. I gave her a hug and nearly cried- then she talked about what it actually meant, how it was the medal used in exorcisms.

Five about Holiness - Wednesday

"Can you think of something that might happen today when you should be ready to ask, 'What would Jesus do?'"

I think I'd get an answer- though not necessarily the right one. I have a lot more to learn about Christ before I'd have anything approaching a right answer- but having him close at hand, and in your thoughts, is a lot more likely to prompt you to take a good action. Even if it isn't necessarily the one he would have done- it means you're trying to be like him, take his teachings into consideration in any situation- and who knows, God may see fit to grant you the answer. Whether or not I'd be able to carry it out is a different story, but hopefully.