Why Don’t Catholics Eat Meat on Fridays in Lent?

When the priest offered to help with the fishing, the nuns scoffed. Sisters, they told him, are doing it for themselves. Buzzfeed, picture from 1952

When the priest offered to help with the fishing, the nuns scoffed. “Sisters,” they told him, “are doing it for themselves.” Buzzfeed, picture from 1952

Have you ever been in the situation of biting into the most delicious sandwich that has gold honey ham, fresh lettuce, juicy tomato, all blanketed with a mix of sour and sweet mustard — and then realizing it’s a Friday in Lent? We all make mistakes, but what is so important about abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent?

For Catholics, Lent is a 40-day season starting from Ash Wednesday to sundown on Holy Thursday filled with prayers, sacrificing (fasting), and almsgiving. Each day is filled with opportunities to become closer to God by giving more time to Him physically through daily mass, spiritually with personal prayers of the rosary, etc. One of the ways we can become closer to God is by observing tradition more, especially the importance of Fridays. We know that Jesus died on Good Friday because He was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday. 

Dating back to the 9th century, Pope Nicholas I required Catholics to abstain from meat (flesh, marrow, or blood) in memory of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death on Good Friday. In 1917, the Code of Canon law was introduced by Pope Benedict XV, listing: “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday” (Can. 1251). Although the law says all Fridays, most people only follow the law during Lent but as a personal choice, I do not eat meat on all Fridays. 

To summarize: Meat is not consumed on Fridays during Lent because Jesus sacrificed his flesh on Good Friday due to the crucifixion. In his honor, Catholics restrain from eating meat as an act of penance. 


By Monica Ronayne ‘25, Staff Writer