Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
I have never said that the Church legislates only in spiritual matters. Men are not purely spiritual beings, and in our composite nature, spiritual legislation must in some way affect our material being. The laws of the Church cover material things in so far as they affect our spiritual welfare. There is nothing spiritual about meat in itself. But spiritual virtue is exercised when we abstain from meat from a motive of self-denial, gratitude, and obedience to God.
Yes. When the Pharisees complained to Christ that His disciples did not fast, He replied that they did not whilst He was with them, but that they would when He had gone from them. Mk. II., 18. Now the Catholic Church, ordered by Christ to teach all nations whatsoever Christ had said to her, tells us that at certain times we must fast in expiation of our sins. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Let us exhibit ourselves as servants of God, in patience, in fastings." A Christian spirit of reparation says, "I indulged my senses at the expense of God's law; I will therefore now mortify them at the expense of my own comfort." However it is part of Christian law, and those who say that the Catholic Church obliges fasting whilst other Churches do not, complain as usual that the Catholic Church is fulfilling the Christian law whilst others are not. And the Catholic Church appoints special days, for if it were left to individuals they would fast very irregularly, or not at all. It is much better to make it definite.
It follows that meat is not evil in itself, and that the Church does not forbid meat on Fridays because she thinks that meat will defile men. That should be evident from the fact that the Church permits meat on other days, as she could not do if she believed meat to be evil. Therefore it must be a question of the day, and not of the meat. Why then does the Church forbid meat on Fridays? Because on that day Christ gave His life for us in misery and suffering. If a Catholic eats meat on that day, the meat does not defile him, but his interior disposition of ingratitude and disobedience certainly does. If a man is not prepared to give up a little meat on the day Christ gave up His life, he is not worthy to be ranked as a Christian. The Friday abstinence has kept Our Lord's sacrifice and death before the minds of millions of Catholics for centuries. To the vast majority of the Protestant Churches which abolished this beautiful practice merely because the Catholic Church had the grace to fulfill it, Friday is just like Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, and their members do not think week by week of the greatest event that ever occurred in history for love of us. I have never yet received a convert into the Church who has not seen the beauty of this devotedness to Christ, and of the loyalty with which the Church recalls Friday as the day of the greatest event in our redemption. That non-Catholics should he silent about this Catholic custom I could understand. But that they should still profess to be Christians and then blame the Catholic Church for such a generous and loving act in honor of Christ merely because they do not do it themselves is astonishing.
The reference is to men who teach that meat is evil in itself and who declare that it is wicked to eat it under any circumstances. But Catholics do not believe or teach this. Almost any butcher will tell you that he supplies many Catholic customers regularly with meat.
n the very earliest ages of the Church. The practice is mentioned in the Didache or Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, a booklet written by one of the immediate followers of the Apostles in the year 90.
No one. The Catholic Church says that it is a mortal sin for a Catholic to eat meat on Friday knowingly and wilfully, without a sufficiently grave and excusing reason. Then that Church says that if a man dies in unrepented mortal sin, he will go to hell.
That is not true. No Catholic is physically compelled to abstain from meat on Fridays. It is a moral obligation, adding the virtue of obedience to that of Chris-ian mortification. On your method of reasoning you should say that a man should voluntarily abstain from stealing, and that it is wrong to do so because God has said, 'Thou shalt not steal." And do the laws of the land destroy the virtue of citizens because there is a moral obligation to observe them?
There is no law obliging them to do so. Of course there is always the law of conscience forbidding drinking to excess on any day. Yet, although there is no law forbidding drink in moderation on Fridays, it would be a very good and meritorious action if a man did abstain voluntarily from alcoholic drink on that day in a spirit of mortification and self-denial. But that would not dispense him from the obligation to abstain from meat. Let a man fulfill the law, and then do more if he wishes. Obedience is better than sacrifices prompted by one's own opinions.
It would not. The Church wishes to forbid a thing wrhich most of her people will miss. Practically all eat meat; not all by any means drink intoxicants. All are united in a common act of mortification. There is a tendency in men to think that all laws should conform to their own pet ideas. A man likes his meat and dislikes drink. So he suggests that the Church should rather forbid drink than meat. But drink does not affect all men; meat affects practically all.