I have trouble reconciling the requirement to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent. The reason for this is that it seems to be enforced solely at the whim of the local bishop. Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area the Dallas diocese has been required to abstain while next door in Fort Worth the restriction is not enforced.
It seems completely arbitrary and senseless, when I’m told not complying will ensure I’ve committed a grave sin I become really skeptical. I’m familiar with the idea that what is bound on earth is bound in Heaven, etc. but the use of that reasoning here seems to reduce God to the level of a “gofer” for the bishops. I sometimes wonder when we’ll be told how to vote according to their direction under pain of mortal sin.
If that seems far fetched, there was a recent news article concerning a Dominican priest in England who was giving dispensation for “ecological sins”. Does the use of Pampers on my daughter instead of washable diapers constitute venial or mortal sin? Maybe it depends on what’s in the diaper! The link between this and the issue of meat on Friday is the apparent arbitrary rules placed upon us in all seriousness by sober faced clerics who seem to be on some sort of ego trip.
Trying to explain it to nonCatholics gets a bit sticky as you might guess. Makes me wish for the pre-Vatican II days when you “knew” beyond a doubt that baloney sandwich would cost you your soul!
Maybe for most folks it would be small potatoes but the aggravation I experienced over this particular issue (and a few others like it) two years ago led me to briefly leave the Church again. I came back only after recalling my time in the military where I would obey all lawful orders. Those orders didn’t have to make sense, they just had to be lawful. They could be stupid, assinine, aggravating abuses of authority by a complete nincompoop who had all the brains of a cabbage but if they were lawful I obeyed them.
So this Lent I’ll again grit my teeth every Friday and take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work with me. God’s will be done and thanks for listening.