When I was growing up, we never ate red meat on Good Friday. We always ate fish instead. My family and I attended an Anglican Church in Picton NSW, Australia. No meat on Good Friday was just the norm. No one really ever explained it to me, it was just something that we did. In fact my parents still don’t eat red meat on Good Friday.
Then I moved to Wollongong and joined Lighthouse Christian Centre. The church used to hold Easter Camps at the Berry Showground over the Easter long weekend. I remember the Good Friday of my first camp. I had gone up the street after the morning worship service and I bought a Steak, Cheese and Bacon pie for lunch from the famous Berry Pie Shop. Half way through the pie I was horrified to think that I had eaten red meat on Good Friday and somehow had shown disrespect to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So I decided to check out the theological reason for not eating meat on Good Friday.
There isn’t any.
So where did the tradition come from?
1) The idea of fasting as a spiritual discipline is certainly a biblical one.
Matthew 6:16-18 says
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.[d
2 Corinthians 6:5
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;
2) There is some mention of fasting in the early church – on a Friday, as a mark of respect. Explicit mention is made of the practice of abstaining on Fridays in a document from the end of the first century (The Didache of the Apostles), as well as by St. Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian in the 3rd century
3) It was a practice that was adopted by the Catholic church.
The Catholic period of fasting leading up to Easter is called Lent. Click here to read my Blog Post on Why I Don’t Celebrate Lent.
Here is a quote from a website I was reading about the issue
It was the universal custom from the very beginning, and Friday was chosen in memory of the Passion of Our Lord, as a day on which we should make a special effort to practice penance. It is in recognition of the fact that Christ suffered and died, and gave up his human flesh and life for our sins on a Friday that Catholics do not eat flesh meat on Fridays. Pope Nicholas I made this a law of the Church in the ninth century. In the Latin Church, from the early middle ages this one day of abstinence was not considered enough, and Saturday abstinence was added, in honor of the burial of Christ and the mourning of the Blessed Mother and the holy woman on Holy Saturday. This was made a law of the Church by St. Gregory VII in the 11th century, but has since fallen out of custom, except by those who desire to profess their devotion to Our Lady in a special way. The Eastern rite Church also had strict rules for abstinence, given that it was binding for them on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The rules for what can and what cannot be permitted on days of abstinence have also varied with time. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, indicates that eggs, milk, butter, cheese and lard are forbidden on days of abstinence because they come from animals and have some identity of origin with flesh meat. Present day rules limit the abstinence to flesh meat only.
The abstinence from meat is an ecclesiastical law, but one which has long obliged under pain of mortal sin. Pope Innocent III made this very clear at the beginning of the 13th century, and in the 17th century Pope Alexander VII anathematized those who would minimize the character of this obligation and declared that transgressions against it were only venial sins
4) What did Jesus say about what we eat?
Matthew 15:10-11, 16-20
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.
Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.
If you want to not eat Red Meat on a Friday or on Good Friday as a principle of spiritual fasting, then that’s great and that’s between you and God.
If you want to eat Red Meat on any Friday including Good Friday, then that is fine too.
The bigger issue is – Do you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? It really has nothing to do with when you eat red meat. It has everything to do with – is Jesus in your heart?
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
You may also be interested in these Easter Orientated Blogs.
- An Open Letter to the Easter Bunny.
- What is Lent and Why I Don’t Celebrate it.
- An Easter Meditation: What Does a Pale Blue Dot Have to do With Christ?
- Ever wondered what happened between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? Where did Jesus go and what did He accomplish?
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Here are my Top Ten Theologically Orientated Blogs:
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Categories: Answers to Questions, Church related, Family, Life, Theology, Topics to wrestle with
Not eating meat on Good Friday is a bit like doing all the right traditions but not loving people and not having relationship with Christ, a bit useless.
A silly rule.All sandwich stores and burger outlets would go broke or only cater for vegans or vegetarians if we all followed the rules to that extreme.
Eat meat on friday and you’ll go straight to hell, no questions asked.
That’s a very non biblical opinion. And is completely wrong
This is awesome as i now know its a Catholic Religious principle and not fact out of the word.Being a born again Christian as i am i don’t need to associate with religious stuff that isn’t biblically based cheers mate and kudos for taking thebtime to research properly.
Yeh, it is amazing how many Biblical truths have been distorted, or traditions that have simply been introduced that are not Biblically based at all: like infant baptism, praying to saints and to Mary, Mary being the perpetual virgin, worshipping on Sunday and not the Sabbath, purgatory, indulgences, etc, etc. the list goes on. As Christ is our Lord and Saviour, it’s important to find out the truth about Him. Thanks for the info on red meat on Good Friday!
Thanx for the info.
I feel guilty for eating meat . 😦
I took the ash ,and my relative told me not to eat anything at breakfast .I did so , but later on .. I had the feeling I wasn’t suppose to eat meat . Soon , I ate a slice of pizza that was pepperoni ,and I wasn’t sure about it .Later, I had been right I was not suppose to eat meat .I don’t know if it sin ,because some say that under the age of fourteen . SOME say, the Bible does not refer to NOT eating meat ; some just do it for tradition .What, do I do ??
Did my blog help you at all. Don’t feel guilty for eating anything on Good Friday. It’s all about Jesus and his grace. Not legalism.
we have been doing this without knowing where it came from, thanx for the info.
i have to say giving up something i liked for lent was harder than not eating meat for Good Friday … a practice i no longer practice 🙂
As an ex Catholic it was strictly observed in our house & I must say I still try not to eat meat on Good Friday .. Purely because we were taught to observe Lent & sacrifice something we loved for this period . I consider this a prayer & fasting period now to honour My saviour Jesus Christ !
Hala Lu ya
As an addition to my earlier reply last year ? My Strict Catholic Mother would not allow us to have any dairy products either ( on our buns :-(. ) until after 3 pm the hour they believed Jesus Died . Go figure . See how little kids learn weird stuff .
I remember in my nursing day i used to witness to as many people i could. I was very zealous.
Easter Friday in the dining room i chose a meat dish and all the other nurses chose fish. They noticed i was eating meat and m they made a big deal out of it and called me a hypocrite. I kew it wasn’t biblical but they didn’t want to know. I followed the Lord every day and they followed the law 1 day in the year.
WHO IS THE HYPOCRITE!!!!!!
Left the catholic church after being a “child of Mary” complete with veil and blue cape!!! when I was 16……am now in my 60’s…..so much hyprocrisy within the church, but my belief about god didnt change…..if you are predominately a good person throughout life to one and all, god isnt going to punish you because you like red meat…if he wanted you not to eat it, it would be written down emphatically within the teachings and sayings by him contained in the Bible…….I have never seen those words…….let your conscience be your guide…there are other ways to show your respect and “give up” something fundamentallly important!
I have to thank you for saying that (So much hyprocrisy within the church ) I am Christian I believen in God and I pray all of the time . Let your conscience be your guide … I dont no what church to go to so I read the bible and understand it as much as I can , .
Thanks for your feedback. Find a church that simply preaches the bible.
That rule about not eating meat on Friday was made by men and not from the Lord himself. Some churches makes new rules often that makes us confused and that’s bad on their side. I rather fallow the rules from the bible and go by the words it says and not go by the rule a men creates.
We grew up with fish on Good Friday as had been my Catholic Dad’s tradition. It was just about remembering the blood of Jesus that was spilled for us.
I found it an easy tradition to observe & it became a nice treat for fish n chips with my children, teaching them about being very grateful that Jesus suffered & died for us on the cross.
We still mostly do it . It can be used as a great opportunity to share the Lord if in company.
Thank you for your research I will eat meat as I don’t eat seafood. Was never raised with religion so I grew up not understanding the why’s.
Thank you!! I usually follow catholic traditions, cuz my family do it. But I woke up so hungry and I only have red meat, so I’m making ribs but I forgot it’s good Friday, till mom told me I can’t eat meat today. But I’m hungry and I’m going to eat it whether its good or no cuz I have god in my heart. For example just because I don’t go to church doesn’t mean I don’t love god or that I don’t have faith in him.☺
It was well written in the bible that a false prophets like the catholics priest will arose, in Timothy 4:3 will forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.(and they are the one mentioned by the bible about false prophets. who are among many churches who has this kind of teachings, isnt it the Catholic Church?