Is there a biblical basis for abstaining from meat as a sign of repentance?
Yes. The book of Daniel states:
"In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Daniel 10:1-3)
By giving up good things and denying them to ourselves we encourage an attitude of humility, free ourselves from dependence on them, cultivate the spiritual discipline of being willing to make personal sacrifices, and remind ourselves of the importance of spiritual goods over earthly goods. Since the Catholic Church only requires abstinence from meat on a temporary basis, it clearly does not regard meat is immoral. Instead, it regards it as the giving up of a good thing (which in less economically developed regions -- including the whole world until very recently -- was expensive and thus eaten at festive occasions, making it a sign of rejoicing) to attain a spiritual goal.
Next: On what basis does the Church have the authority to establish days of fast?
E-mail this page to a friend