I wish to express my appreciation to Bob Warr for allowing me to use his blog as a platform for my posts for an undetermined length of time. Thanks, Bob.
STRING TOO SHORT TO TIE
Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not a theological treatise, nor is its intent to make fun of anyone’s practice of faith.
Fish on Friday
We protestants who lived north of the Arkansas River chided (read: made fun of) our Catholic friends who would drive south of the river on Fridays to partake of their evening meal, for there they felt free of conscience to eat red meat. It was widely believed that Catholics were to abstain from meat on Fridays as an integral part of the practice of their faith. Failure to do so made the offender a sinner in the eyes of fellow Catholics and a hypocrite in the eyes of the protestants.
The trip across the river had its roots in some medieval history. Because of their service in the Crusades, Pope Urban II granted a dispensation to Spanish counts allowing them relief from the meatless Friday rule. In 1571, Pope Pius V extended the dispensation to all lands under Spanish rule. Hence, Spain’s colonies in the New World were excepted.1 Even though Spain had long since lost her rule in the New World, and even through domination by various peoples, and right on into the twentieth century American world in which I lived, the observation continued in those geographical areas originally dominated by Spain. In the West, the northern boundary of Mexico was the Arkansas River, and hence the Catholics of Texas, New Mexico, and a portion of southern Colorado considered themselves under the dispensation of Pope Pius V.
In 1951, the faithful in the area were advised that indeed they should follow the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays, along with the rest of the Catholic world. Much confusion exists to this day, and Catholics generally believe that to eat meat on Friday is not sinful, but that Friday should be a day of penance as clarified by the Holy See in 1966.2
1Michael P. Foley, Fish on Friday: The One that Got Away, Musings of a Pertinacious Papist, December 30, 2010.