Friday, February 22, 2013

Lent: Where's the Beef?

When I was a Junior in high school, Wendy's had a hit television commercial. In it, three ladies receive their burgers from a competitor. The ladies seemingly receive huge burgers. However, when the crowns of the buns are lifted, it is revealed that the patties are so tiny that they are almost undetectable. This prompts one of them to angrily ask "Where's the beef?"

The phrase has been used repeatedly in various formats, so it is more than likely that some have used the phrase having no idea of its origin.

The same may hold true for many who abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent; doing it but not really knowing why.

Last week, I decided to dedicate short posts on Fridays during Lent to briefly examine why we abstain from meat on these particular days. In that first post, I stated

In the simplest sense, abstaining from meat is a very small sacrifice which reminds us of THE sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Abstaining from meat is a form of PENANCE 

The Holy Spirit brings our sins to light, and although this rightly brings conviction, it is the same Spirit, which is the Consoler, Who gives us the Grace which prompts our repentance and aids in our ongoing conversion.

Penance expresses our contrition for our sins and our intention to turn away from sin and our attachment to it. If we are abstaining without ever giving thought as to why we are abstaining, we are completely missing the point.

While abstaining is a reminder to us of the need for penance in our lives, ultimately Jesus calls us to penance which is prompted by, preceded by the interior conversion. Rightly ordered, it is the interior which prompts the exterior.

When the Church says "do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent", unfortunately it is the outward act which receives the attention. However, the Church is giving us this very small and very simple directive, a precept of the Church, to help us to recognize that we are to grow, to mature beyond a small mandate onto deeper expressions which spring from the interior conversion of the heart.
Related posts:
What Do You Mean You Don't Eat No Meat During Lent!?
Are you convicted, accused, or left alone?

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