Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence, which means abstaining from eating meat.

Fasting (required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) and abstinence (required on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays during Lent) are penitential practices expected to be observed by healthy Catholic adults.

Neither practice is all that onerous. Fasting in the Catholic tradition (unlike the Buddhist tradition, where fasting means no food at all) means eating only one regular meal and two smaller meals that together are less than a full meal – which one of my friends jokingly referred to as “cutting down.” Abstaining from meat means meat only and does not preclude eating eggs, meat broths and other items that come from animal products.

So if the practice of abstinence is going to be meaningful, it ought to involve some real sacrifice. Thus, eating sushi, my all-time favorite meal, on Fridays during Lent seems to me off the table. Sushi is hardly a sacrifice for me. And for the may people who already eschew meat in favor of fish for health or other reasons, it is no sacrifice.

It is not about complying with the minimum terms of the stated rule, but of engaging in a meaningful penitential practice. That may mean a simple vegetable soup and bread for dinner. Or some rice and beans. I saw a post by someone who said that since he was a vegan, he planned to abstain from soy on Fridays. Whatever it is, make it meaningful for you.