Restricting meat has a purpose
Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 26, 2007
Daniel Trumble makes several errors in his Letter to the Editor (“True meaning of sacrifice lost,” Feb. 23). First, he is upset because lack of meat in the dining halls makes his Lenten sacrifice “entirely unremarkable.” With a penance “entirely between God and myself,” why should the dining hall interfere? They make it easy on me. To show I’m truly sorry, I need this to be a decision I make myself, in spite of the world, not with the world. That will make my penance more real, more genuine.
In this point Trumble fails to entertain the idea that fasting can be a communal act which includes not just himself and even the other students, but the dining hall staff and servers, who are a part of the Notre Dame community themselves. Fasting together as students and being supported by the surrounding community, even the non-Catholic students and workers, strengthens the focus and intentions of the fast, making it not only a personal challenge but a communal focus. Personally, I would feel a little strange if one of my friends, knowing I was Catholic, asked me to go to a steakhouse with her on Friday. Maybe the dining halls are doing us the same favor.
Trumble and others often fail to notice a more practical dimension of the absence of meat in the dining halls on Friday. There is absolutely no way for those doing food preparation to predict how much meat will be consumed those days. The Catholic population, last I heard, constituted 85 percent of students. The variance in the number of people that would choose to eat or not to eat meat on Fridays, were it there, is enormous. If there isn’t any meat, we can be absolutely sure no one will eat it. If there is, those who aren’t Catholic will most likely eat it. But maybe some who are Catholic will do so too – either because they forget, or don’t care. Or maybe every single Catholic here would follow the rules. Or maybe none would. Who’s to know? You could end up with a lot of wasted meat. That costs money and wastes good food. And neither of those things are the point of fasting, either.
And let’s be honest, people – when all else fails, those Bosco Stix are pretty darn good.