It's Friday and it's Lent, which means on the day our Lord suffered so incredibly and in respect and mortification for that event Catholics are called to abstain from meat, in deference to the flesh sacrifice our Lord offered up, the partying and socializing of fish fries have risen!
These events that have become almost ritualistic for some Catholics and Catholic schools in particular seem too lack in many circumstances any appreciation or recognition for what Fridays in Lent are all about. The trivialization of our Faith is quite alarming to me. Many parishes offer the Way of the Cross Liturgy on the Fridays of Lent, and many times these two events are taking place in close proximity to each other. You can hear the raucous laughter and jovial mood of the fish fry while sitting and preparing to enter into the passion and death of our Lord in may cases. It is really quite interesting.
As I waiting for the Stations to start, and tried to focus and meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, I watched and heard the clatter and chatter from on the other side of the wall. Unfortunate souls who evidently didn't have any realization of the magnitude of solemnity many were submerging themselves in just a few feet away. I found it fascinating, sad, and quite tragic really.
So many who attend and work these fish fry events seem to disregard the reason for the event in the first place. We definitely have some work to do. There seems to be a prime and magnificent opportunity for evangelization at these events, that gets lost in the rush and the noise. Is the opportunity ignored and sacrificed in an effort to not offend? Or is it out of just slothfulness? How difficult would it be to celebrate Saints at various tables, have prayer cards and informational packets available. Maybe even a screen with information about Parish Faith Formation events? An invocation? Invitations to Mass? Parishioners walking around and working the crowd? Lots of effort, you bet; would it bear any fruit? I'm not sure. It is worth the energy? Absolutely!
Life is messy, isn't it? Just as we sit and reflect and immerse ourselves in our Lord and Savior only feet from those who have no clue about the beauty of this mystery as they fry fish and celebrate the start to their weekend, we walk daily at work, school, the grocery store, with those same people. People who are thirty and hungry for Truth and don't even know it. Are we missing our chances with all of them as well? Are we sacrificing conversions for convenience? I don't know, really. I am presuming we all do this, every day. It just seems to be magnified this time of year, because at that Easter Vigil Mass, we could maybe have twice the amount of people entering our Church, if only we had reached out and unveiled the unraveling of the Stations amid the frying of fish.