Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Fine Kettle of Fish: Why Eat Fish on Good Friday?

By now you probably have heard that we will be hosting our first Holy Week Fish Fry this Good Friday. If we have a good crowd, we hope to make it an annual event. Be sure to sign up to attend and/or work as quickly as possible!

Before deciding to go ahead with the fish fry, we polled members of the congregation to see if they thought it was a good idea. Most people were excited about the possibility, but one expressed concern that the event wasn’t in keeping with the somber atmosphere of Lent.

Turns out we have centuries of tradition on our side. Because Christ was crucified on a Friday, people have been fasting on Fridays to commemorate that sacrifice since at least the first century AD. However, over time complete fasting evolved into abstaining from meat—the flesh of any warm-blooded animal "that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us," according to Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?

For some reason, the death of cold-blooded fish didn’t fall under this stricture, possibly because pre-Christian worshippers of Venus regularly ate fish on Fridays, and converts just continued the tradition.

In any case, Catholics throughout the world observed “fish fasting” on Fridays until Pope Paul VI loosened fasting rules in the 1960s. Even then, the prohibition of meat on Fridays remained in force during Lent, which is why some Catholic churches continue to hold Lenten fish fries on one or more of the Fridays leading up to Easter, including Good Friday.

So, although we are Presbyterian, eating fish on Good Friday should be perfectly acceptable. As long as we don’t get too rowdy.

(And thanks to Debbie Thompson for proposing the idea and spearheading the arrangements!)

Good Friday Fish Fry 
Friday, April 3, 4:00-5:30 pm in Swain Hall 
Adults $8, children $5 
Guests are welcome

The joint Good Friday worship service with Church of the Palms and Faith Presbyterian will follow in the Sanctuary at 6:00 pm. This year’s service will feature the Great Bells of Fire and a Tenebrae (“Shadows”) piece involving the voice choir and the pastors of all three churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment