Here’s the first installment of my Friday series about practical theology, food and keeping a day of abstinence from meat. I’ll be talking a little bit about why the Catholic Church keeps Friday as a day of abstinence and then the recipe will be at the bottom. Sorry there’s no picture – the last time I made this it disappeared too quickly…
So, why abstain from ‘flesh and fowl’ one day a week? And why Friday?
Well, the idea of giving up meat one day a week is properly a penitential practice as well as a commemoration of Good Friday. A penitential practice something that reminds us to turn back to God and to give to others, doing something corporeal (for our body) that reminds us of the spiritual. A penance is repenting from sin and also an act which helps a person do this, so giving up meat, or for some people, giving up something else or doing a special charitable act, keeps us aware of how much we need God and His help to stay on the straight and narrow, as it were.
Giving up meat, which is historically a luxury for many people, could perhaps be related to looking to our heavenly food, the Body and Blood of Christ. In addition, it lends well to the practice of taking the money you would have used for meat and giving it to the poor. Nowadays it is not uncommon for Catholics to give up something else or do a special charitable act which will help them turn from sin and remember Christ’s Passion.
As a spiritual practice I have found a day of abstinence quite helpful. Remembering that I shouldn’t eat something has also often reminded me that I ought to remember to do something else too. It has also helped me think about what I eat and how much I spend on food, which, in turn, reminds me that everything I have is a gift from God, even salvation, which comes from the greatest sacrifice, that of Jesus Christ.
Recipe: Vegetable Soup
for 2, but easily doubled, tripled etc.
2-3 good sized carrots and/or parsnips
3-4 good sized potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
Spices to taste (see Note)
1/4 cup red lentils
Water or vegetable stock
- Peel and chop all vegetables into bite-size pieces.
- Heat oil in soup pot and cook vegetable until onion is cooked and translucent.
- Add spices (see Note).
- Add lentils and enough water to just cover the vegetables.
- Bring to a boil, stir well so lentils don’t stick to bottom of pot, then cover and simmer for half an hour or so, until lentils are cooked and vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Mash, hand blend or pulse in blender until smooth.
- Eat with bread, yogurt, naan bread etc.
Note: This recipe is quite versatile and depending on how I feel I’ll add curry paste and cumin to make it more like a curry, coriander seeds and garlic powder for class, or just salt and pepper for a nice, plain soup. Experiment and let me know how it goes!