“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” ~ Samuel Johnson
I hope that this reflection can be both a reminder as well as informative. Today is Friday. I know that you do not need to be reminded of that. However, what you might need to be reminded of is that the Church has asked each and every Catholic to perform some act of penance on all Fridays since Friday is the day that Jesus died for our sins.
When many of us were much younger, we remember that we had a common penance every Friday of the year: no meat. Meatless Fridays were the hallmark of Catholicism. They were the fodder of many jokes as well made by non-Catholics regarding that practice. But it was true. If you saw a family eating out on Fridays and they were having seafood, it was a real good chance that they were Catholic.
I knew what Friday of the month it was by our meal. First Fridays were fish sticks. Second Fridays were macaroni and cheese. Third Fridays were tuna burgers, creamed tuna on toast, or tuna noodle casserole. Fourth Fridays were cheese pizza. And if a month had five Fridays, we feasted on salmon patties.
After Vatican II, however, the Church removed the requirement for meatless Fridays. The reason, quite simply, was that it was not a penance for a lot of people. If someone liked seafood, there was not a lot of penance involved in “having” to refrain from meat. So the Church asked its people to come up with a penance that would be more personal, from the heart, to acknowledge our guilt and let the Lord know how sorry we were for putting Him up on the cross. After all, He died for our sins as well.
Most people remember that the Church no longer requires meatless Fridays throughout the year. They are only required on Fridays of Lent now. However, most people do not know or have forgotten that we are called to perform an act of penance each Friday.
Make an act of penance today. Let it be very personal so that the Lord knows that you recognize all that He did for you. He was willing to hang on the cross and die for your sins. To what length are you willing to go today to acknowledge that great and loving deed?
FAITH ACTION: Try to perform some act of penance today as a recognition of what Jesus has done for you in His passion and the agony of His death.