Lent is a period of fasting in Christendom, and the Catholic faithful mainly observes it. Lent is the period set aside to remember the biblical record of Jesus fasting for 40 days and 40 nights before his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. While the fasting period is not obligatory to all Christians, those who observe Lent do get confused about what they can eat and what they ought not to eat. The guide below helps clear the air on this issue.
So, Can You Eat Chicken During Lent?
No, and Yes! Any form of meat is prohibited, and these include chicken, lamb, beef, pork, deer, and ham. Meat is not permitted on Ash Wednesday and every Friday of the Lent period.
What Can You Eat During Lent?
The 40 days of lent is a period of fasting, prayers, and contemplations. It is a 40-day period that comes after the “Ash Wednesday,” which represents the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. To most Christians who observe the lent, it is a period to prepare for Easter, which signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Attending mass and following special eating rules are also characteristic features of Lent.
During Lent, Catholics eat less than usual; most adults often give up snacking and eat a single large meal and two smaller meals all through the day. Also, on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all other Fridays during the Lent, adult members of the catholic organization abstain from meat in any form.
Though meat from lamb, beef, pork, ham, deer, and chicken are prohibited, Catholics can consume other animal products, including grains, fish, milk, egg, fruits, and vegetables. Many Catholics also give up some of their favorite treats during the lent, including chocolate and chicken snacks. Some Catholics go to the extent of giving up on watching TV.
What Are The Alternatives To Eating Meat During The Lent?
You can still enjoy your favorite meals even without the regular meat. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes you can check out, and if you are not a vegetarian, you may find fish alternatives very great.
Shrimp skewers, veggie fish and chips, Salmon with pasta are just a few of the special delicacies that you can enjoy during the period of lent. There are mouth-watering salads and gluten-free recipes for those allergic to some grain meals.
What Are The Benefits Of Lent?
According to St. Thomas Aquinas (AD 331), the following are the essential benefits of observing Lent fasting.
1. Atonement for sin
Lent has been described as being penitential; hence it is prescribed by the church to allow faithful to engage in penance and mortification to atone for sins. Since fasting has been recognized as an integral part of repentance, lent is a period to call for turning away people from sin and towards God.
Penance, in this case, involves the expression of sorrow for offending God and others and also to help redress the wrongs that have been committed.
2. For Spiritual Benefits
Fasting has been recognized for a long time as a means of penance. In the post-modern world, the use of fasting for spiritual benefits has been under-utilized. The focus on fasting has thus become more famous for its physical benefits, while the spiritual blessings have been grossly disregarded.
Christians still recognize the fact that the secret to remaining spiritually relevant today is through fasting. Fasting helps an individual stay spiritually relevant. The physical benefits of fasting have been regarded as myopic and pagan acts that are not in tune with eternal life.
3. Fasting Helps Suppress the Lusts of the Flesh
There is no better way to control the lusts of the flesh that gets Christians carried away than to fast. We should fast so that the mind will rise more freely to the contemplation of the heavenly things. Fasting is one of the ways to receive revelations from above and to suppress sinful desires. Since fasting takes humans to their lowest estate, it can be challenging to get subdued by sinful desires in such low estates.
Fasting helps to subject the body to the control of the soul. Christians who took the part of spiritual perfection through fasting often experience the presence of God. Fasting is an act of voluntary suffering that helps us pay more attention to God’s will for our lives.
4. Fasting Makes Us Take Responsibility for Our Sins and Make Amends with God
Taking responsibility for your sins is the first step towards making amends with God. When you make amends with God, your path to finding him will be restored. As we take responsibility for our sins and make amends with God, we will eventually build resistance against sin and other earthly desires. When we fast, we can successfully force the body into compliance.
5. Fasting Helps Us Build Self Control
We build self-control through fasting because we can force the body into compliance. When we force our bodies to comply with the directives of God, we will enforce self-mastery. These virtues are very critical in our Christian lives. We need to be reminded that the desires of the flesh are constantly against these desires of the spirit. Fasting can help us rectify the disorder between flesh and spirit, and we will become subject to the spirit’s control.
6. Fasting Empowers Us in Prayer
Fasting will focus our intellect on knowing God the more, and it will help purify our thoughts to discover the divine beauty and the truth of God. God always finds our act of voluntary suffering as a great love for him.
What Is The Church’s Law On Lent And Fasting In General?
The church has listed fasting as its fourth precept, and it states, “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the church under the CCC:2043. Catholics are under the obligation of keeping the laws guiding fasting. The goal here is to ensure that everyone who obeys this law attains eternal life. Catholic members who intentionally neglect or reject the forms of penance violate the divine law and may become guilty of grave sin. Any grave sin committed with full knowledge and consent is considered a mortal sin, and it places the soul in peril.
1. Catholics are Obliged to Fast on Ash Wednesdays and Friday When the Lent Begins
Since the lent season is a penitential character, the church has set the days of penance as Ash Wednesday and All Fridays during the Lent period. Catholics are therefore obliged to fast and abstain from flesh meat during this period. This law is binding on all Catholics.
2. Catholics from 18 to 60 are Required to Fast
From age 18 to the beginning of their 60th birthday, the Latin Rite Catholics are mandated to fast unless they have serious reasons not to do so. This law of fasting allows individuals to eat one full meal a day but does not prohibit the consumption of light meals in the morning and evening. This notion is contrary to the belief by many other Christian groups that absolute fasting should commence by midnight, and no food must be consumed from hence until late in the evening.
This law allows liquids such as coffee, tea, milk, or juice to be consumed as they technically don’t violate the fast.
The Latin Rite Catholics who have attained the age of 14 are expected to abstain from the meat of all kinds on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during the Lent period.
3. The Definition of Flesh Meat
The abstinence laws of fasting regard meat from any animal as flesh meat. These include meat from chicken, sheep, cow, goat, and pig.
Birds are also considered meat under this law, but the abstinence laws do not prohibit consuming fluids made from meat; therefore, chicken broths, soups, meat gravies, sauces, and seasonings are not prohibited during Lent. Condiments made from animal fat are also not forbidden during fasting.
Moral theologians believe that we should abstain from animal-derived products except for foods like cheese, eggs, and butter that don’t have a meaty taste.
With all the abstinence laws in place for fasting, it seems the only days that Christians are prohibited from consuming meat when fasting, are Fridays and Ash Wednesdays. People may consume meat on any other day during the lent, especially after breaking their fast. There is also no strict law that states what time of the day an individual must break their fast, but most Christians would prefer to break their fasts by 6 pm while sick people may be allowed to break their fast between 12 noon and 3 pm on their strength. Infants are not expected to fast, but those who have attained 18 up to 60 are mandated to fast and observe all the laws guiding such.