- Tuesday, 11 February 2003 08:32
- Peony Moss
De festae amoris et dieibus poenitentiae
well, not really. This is kind of a quibble post that I could turn into an eloquent meditation on being a Christian living in the world, obeying the laws of the Church without being priggish, noting how our earthly pilgrimage is both feasting and fasting, etc, but my toddler is swarming all over my lap. And he’s got a pencil.
My entire childhood catechesis can be summed up in two phrases: “The Church is a family!” and “The seven sacraments are Baptism, Reconciliation…. etc.” So it wasn’t until in the last couple of years that I learned that we are still supposed to be abstaining from meat on Fridays — and even then I don’t know what the letter of the law is. (Is it a recommended option — “you don’t have to abstain, but it’s a really good idea?” Is it in canon law? Can we freely substitute a different mortification — for example, giving up coffee or chocolate?)
And what to do when a day of fast conflicts with a day of feast? Which one trumps? Specifically, Valentine’s Day falls on Friday this year. Let’s say that nothing says “love” to my Valentine like a nice steak. Should I fix lobster instead? well, lobster isn’t exactly penitential….seems like that’s adhering to the letter of the law and not to the spirit. Should good little Catholic boys and girls sit out the school Valentine’s Day party this year?
The general principle, of course, is that the Church calendar comes first — for example, when planning New Year’s Day celebrations, Mass is the first consideration.
What this all boils down to, of course, is that I want to licitly cook a Valentine-pleasing meal on Friday without “cheating.” I do want it both ways! Is cooking “fancy” fish an authentically Catholic way of rendering to Our Lord what is due Our Lord, and to Cupid what is Cupid’s? (Kind of like the Italian tradition of the Christmas Eve fish extravaganza?)
P.S. Yes, yes, yes, 99.99% of the celebration of Valentine’s Day is secular and has nothing to do with the holy bishop and martyr. But we don’t have to reject secular fun merely for being secular. Reject it for being immoral or whatever, but not merely for being secular.