Welcome to the first Friday in the Easter Season. Lent may be over; but the no meat on Fridays observation continues on for many in the Catholic Community. This is especially true for those participating in the Latin or Traditional Rite.
While Hubby and I do not attend the more traditional Latin Mass, we do adhere to many of the practices of those who do. My head is always covered whenever I enter God’s house as a sign of respect and modesty. I find doing so celebrates my womanhood and I rejoice in that. It is only oppression if I choose to see it that way. God created man and woman differently, for different roles. I feel honored that God chose for me the role of woman.
We do not receive Communion in our hand, but rather take it on the tongue. Hubby receives at the kneeler before the alter. I do not, but only because it would be far too much of a struggle to rise to my feet again. We refrain from meat on Fridays and acknowledge the Ember Days associated with Advent, Lent, Pentecost, and the Holy Cross. We light the candles of our Advent Wreath. All these things we do because, for us, it is twofold. First, we honor those teachings of the Church in these matters. Second, the more we participate in acts of faith, the richer that faith grows. As our faith grows, our relationship with God also grows closer.
The biggest reason behind the abstinence tradition of the Pre-Vatican II Church was to observe an act of penance that was universal throughout the Church. Church teaching on penance has not changed. Although Friday abstinence remains the law of the Latin Church, many National Bishops’ Conferences — including the U.S. bishops — make exceptions in their jurisdictions, permitting Catholics to choose another form of penance instead. In other words, Vatican II simply allowed other forms of penance to exist on a personal level.
In 1966, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence declaring, among other things: Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law.
Unfortunately, most practicing Catholic within the Universal Roman Rite only heard one thing – meat on Fridays is not a sin. So fire up the grill. While God has instructed us on the importance of penance, He never said “Thou shall not eat meat.” So what’s up with meat? Way back when, meat was a luxury. It was a special treat, so giving it up on Fridays was more in keeping with an act of sacrifice. Today, meat is no longer special. Just look at all the hamburger joints and steak houses that abound. So why do Hubby and I continue with this observance? The idea of Penance on Fridays is in recognition of Good Friday, when the Lord died for our sins. When the Church first implemented the restriction of meat on Fridays, it was an acknowledgement of the sacrifice made on a Friday. When the US Bishops made their decree, they also said that we should continue to abstain out of love for the Crucified Christ, as a way of expressing our solidarity with the generations of believers who went before us, and as evidence of fidelity to Christ and His Holy Church. In other words, it is fitting, although not required, that Catholics should continue to abstain from meat on Fridays simply because doing so was (and is) an integral part of Catholic piety and identity.
Besides, there are so many wonderful recipes that do not involve meat.
Cajun Shrimp Skewers over Rice
1 lb medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Lime, zested and juiced
2-1/2 tablespoons Cajun Seasoning, divided
2 tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce, divided
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 cup White Rice
1 (15 oz) can Diced Tomatoes
1-3/4 cups Water
Peel and devein shrimp. Remove tails or leave in place as desired. Keep shrimp chilled until ready to marinade.
Place 4 bamboo skewers in water to soak, set aside.
Zest lime, set aside. Cut lime in half and juice into a re-sealable bag. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning to the lime juice along with 1 tablespoon hot sauce and vegetable oil. Add shrimp. Seal bag, shake to coat. Squeeze out as much air as possible, let shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
While the shrimp marinates, make the rice.
Place rice, tomatoes and water in a sauce pan. Season with remaining tablespoon Cajun Seasoning and Hot Sauce, stir to blend. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat, let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff rice, taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Keep rice warm until ready to serve.
Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Lightly oil grate.
Remove shrimp from the marinade, shake off excess, discard bag with marinade. Thread shrimp on the prepared skewers, leaving some space between each shrimp for even grilling. Place skewers on the heated grill. Cook until shrimp are a bright pink on the outside, no longer transparent in the center, about 3 minutes per side.
Spread rice out on a serving platter. Top with shrimp skewers. Garnish with lime zest and serve.
Father Almight, help me to hear Your voice whenever you speak and grant that I may always answer with joy
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