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Where’s the meat?

Mike Harkins | Thursday, February 26, 2004

I’m sure all the freshmen around campus were thrilled to enter the dining halls yesterday and discover that meat items were all of a sudden non-existent. Welcome to Notre Dame dining halls during Lent, the place where for every Friday, plus Ash Wednesday, the meat disappears and several different kinds of shrimp suddenly appear like the fish of Capistrano. Better get used to it – popcorn shrimp one day, Cajun shrimp the next, then buffalo shrimp – by the end of Lent you’ll never want to eat shrimp again.I’m sure someone always has some complaint about the dining hall not having meat at this time of year, and it may be a tired subject if you’re not a freshman, but it’s all I could think about while meeting with a study group in LaFortune, right next to Subway, with a menu full of sandwiches staring back at me.Now I know this is a Catholic institution, yet I’m a little confused as to why the dining hall does not provide at least some kind of meat. Not only are there a lot of people here who don’t make the decision to give up meat on Fridays; the whole idea of not eating meat during Lent is that we are making a choice to give something up to prove to God that we are can resist such pleasures. The purpose is to try to show that we are disciplined enough to deny ourselves of a material desire that isn’t sinful – eating meat – so that we can become trained to resist things in our lives that actually are sinful. Yet the dining halls are making these decisions for everybody on campus, whether they’re Catholic or not. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that if the dining hall isn’t going to offer us meat anyway, no one is really making the personal choice to abstain from it. What’s the sacrifice if it isn’t available anyway? When I was sitting at a booth next to Subway this Ash Wednesday, I truly felt like I was giving something up. At the same time, I realized how many students here don’t follow the tradition and were ordering up their meatball subs anyhow.And since when was Notre Dame such a hard-core Catholic institution? In the past month the campus has hosted the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival. Is it really that crazy to allow meat in the dining hall on Friday during Lent?