Sunday, 11 September 2011

By This You Shall Know Them...

I think it is wonderful that the Bishops of England & Wales have decided to reinstate the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays. I understand that this is the practice in the US during the Fridays of Lent, but we didn't even have that - the only two days we were obliged to abstain from meat here in the UK were Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. There was a vague awareness that penance was supposed to be done on Fridays, but it was never really mentioned, and therefore was often forgotten.

Now it is compulsory. It isn't necessary to eat fish, and it's true that it isn't a major hardship to forego meat on one day a week, but that isn't the point. All Catholics will now be carrying out the same activity on a Friday, as a reminder that Our Lord died for us on a Friday. It's a reminder to ourselves, as much as to those around us. It is a reclaiming of our Catholic heritage, and a reaffirmation of Catholic identity.

It does take a bit of getting used to - when I first started observing Friday abstinence it seemed to be impossible - I always found myself tucking into that bacon sandwich at break time, only to recall halfway through that it was actually Friday. Eventually I got the hang of it, though up until now there has been that temptation to substitute another penance instead because it was allowed.

We might want to consider reintroducing some other Catholic practices - such as bowing one's head at the name of Jesus, crossing oneself as one passes a Catholic Church, and saying Grace before meals (especially when eating out.)

I'm sure that there are many more Catholic practices which used to be common. Suggestions in the combox please!


Jane said...

Genuflexion on both knees when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.

I realise that may not be possible for you Mac, but that's no excuse for the rest of us!

Love and God bless,

Anonymous said...

Isn't the double genuflection already, ah, well, done? Rubricated? Customed?

On our parish's informal fb group someone posted about the practice of covering your ears with your hand when walking past a Confessional. Again...people weren't taught this during prep for 1st Confession? (Well all right, I wasn't taught it either, but if I actually tell the truth and say that I started doing it years ago out of instinct, that makes me sound terribly ponced up...)

If I think of any more I'll let you know :>

Rachel said...

I didn't know the bishops of England and Wales had done that! God bless them. In America it's the same as you described; we're supposed to do some penance on Fridays but this is almost never mentioned so I doubt most Catholics do it. At least we do have Lent.

I live with my Protestant mother and she always prepares fish for dinner on Fridays, for my sake. How spoiled am I? :)

Diamantina, aka Gentillylace said...

I'm in the same boat as you, Rachel. My mother, with whom I live, is a non-churchgoing Methodist. She makes sure to buy salmon or cod for my dinner each Friday, and usually prepares it for me, so I don't have to tire myself out after coming home from Friday evening Mass. I am truly spoiled -- and blessed: thanks, Mom! :-)

(I usually have slices of cheese pizza for lunch on Friday, by the way, even though I like pizza much better with pepperoni.)

margaret said...

I'm not Catholic so I don't know if this was ever a tradition or just something nice one particular person did. When I was a child we lived nextdoor to a Catholic family with five kids and I think their mum was a nurse or something and worked shifts so they were got ready for school in the morning by their gran. She would make the sign of the Cross on their foreheads (like abbesses used to, perhaps still do) and say something in Gaelic and then send them off. I thought it was lovely and years later visiting Greece I noticed that pious old people don't let anyone leave the house without saying something along the lines of "God be with you."

Ben Trovato said...

Here's some I'd suggest (and which I practice...)

Genuflecting at the incarnatus est in the Creed
Kneeling to receive Holy Communion
Receiving on the tongue
Receiving under one kind only
Receiving only from an ordained priest or deacon
Observing silence in Church before and after Mass
Making a thanksgiving after Mass
Kissing bishops' rings
Genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle on entering or leaving a pew
Genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle whenever crossing in front of HIm...

Sure there are more, too, but if we all did these it would start to restore some sense of Catholic identity and belief.

Idle Rambler said...

How about making the sign of the cross when passing a cemetery and offering a prayer for the repose of the soul of those buried there? I have to pass a cemetery every time I go into town and I try and remember. It quickly becomes a habit.

Rachel said...

I once saw something like Margaret described. A mother was speaking with her grown daughter and the daughter's fiance, and then she reached out and traced a Sign of the Cross on both their foreheads. I thought it was lovely. In other cultures children ask their parents for a blessing on New Years'. I think we need more of parents blessing their kids; because it's their role to raise and protect them, God will surely hear their prayers for them.

Genty said...

Some of the things we were taught by the good nuns:
Make small sign of the cross over the heart when passing a church.
If you enter a church and discover the priest is moments from the Consecration immediately kneel on the floor.
Double genuflection at Exposition.
Don't dress in a way which draws attention to you at Mass.
When a funeral cortege passes, stop, bow your head and say a silent prayer for the repose of the soul.
My memory might be faulty but I think I remember that abstinence from meat was also required on Wednesdays in Lent.
I've got a good recipe for chick pea curry. No, don't laugh.

Lynne said...

When you pray the Salve Regina, at the words, "O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary", strike your breast 3 times.

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