Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Over at Faith and Family Live! they are hosting a collection of meatless recipes. (That's the impetus behind my posting the stuffed pepper recipe). There are some yummy ones there that I recommend trying and I think we will try a few new ones this lent.

I live with a husband who is not Catholic and therefore does not abstain but is more than willing to do more vegetarian meals and fish meals (did I ever mention he is a chef too!). Danielle pointed out that whether you go meatless the whole 40 days and 40 nights, or if you just abstain on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays in between, it's great to try out some new recipes. I got almost giddy reading some of the recipes and the comments and then I saw this comment:

These recipes all sound great. It did make me think though, (not picking on you Danielle) but these meatless meals are supposed to be something of a sacrifice right? Around here, something like Salmon would be an expensive gourmet meal. Our kids are in heaven when we serve any seafood, we have it so rarely. So I guess my question is… Is just meatless enough? Should there be an element of sacrifice to really make it a sacrifice? Am I making any sense? Just musing...not trying to be critical. musing when I should be cleaning or caring for these kids!!

Which begs the question, what is sacrifice? Is it something we can define for all people equally?

Sacrifice is going to be defined differently by all of us, especially where dietary concerns come up.
For the commenter, clearly cooking any kind of fish is a luxury above beef so, for her and her family, they should go completely meatless including fish. But does that mean everyone should?
I live near the coast where seafood is fresh and often inexpensive depending on what you are getting. And local grocers sell seafood at a deep discount during lent. Sure, they are capitalizing on our religion, but in these times when prices are going up, up, up, it does make sense to save a few pennies that can go to Operation Rice Bowl or another Catholic charity. Even wild-raised Pacific salmon is less expensive than beef or even chicken sometimes around lent.

To say that there should be an element of sacrifice is true, but we cannot decide for others what is or is not a sacrifice for them and their family. For a well-off family that eats steak 3 nights a week, giving that up for a couple of seafood meals does contain an element of sacrifice. It may not be evident to someone who lives far from the coast in an area where seafood is the most expensive meat and is making ends meet with a large family and one income; but that does not mean that one family is more pious or sacrificing more than the other. If we really want to demand sacrifice than why doesn't the Vatican decree that all Catholic families consume only brown rice and pinto beans with no seasonings for all meals for all of lent. Does that make us all now equally sacrificing and pious?

While the writer of the above comment says she does not wish to be critical and is only "thinking out loud" she is also not necessarily thinking outside the realms of her own situation. Yes, our country is in a recession right now, but that is not hitting all people equally and so all people's sacrifices may not be equal to some degree. Just as the decision to send kids to public school vs Catholic school vs home school is a decision best left to each individual family, it is no one's business to know if eating salmon in your house is a luxury or a sacrifice.