This one is perhaps my favorite anti-Catholic rant: I heard this on a secular radio station a few years ago on an Ash Wednesday. According to the host of the radio show, the reason why Catholics had the Friday abstinance was because, back in Italy during the middle ages, the Pope owned a fleet of fishing boats, and no one was buying fish from them. So he ordered abstinance from meat for every Catholic so that his boats would make money off of hungry people with nothing to eat but fish (because we all know that Italians know nothing about things like pizza or pasta).
So, back to my question: Why the Friday abstinance? Is it because Christ gave up his flesh on Good Friday, and so we abstain from any meat products? Or is it for the very act of denying ourselves during this penitential season? In short, is it for the "thing" itself, or in order to "do a thing"? Is it for the cause or the effect?I ask this because I was thinking about vegetarians. To ask them to give up meat is no sacrifice; it would be like asking me to give up eating liver for the rest of my life. I mean, in the case of vegetarians, wouldn't a deliberate penitential act be to deliberately eat a meat product on a Friday of Lent? So if the abstinance is for the thing itself, then vegetarians are just lucky. But if it's to produce an act of penance, then you'd have to say they should have a burger.
Isn't that wierd?