For Catholics seeking solidarity and fellowship on their 40-day Lenten journey, the Friday parish fish fry provides an enjoyable (and profitable) event geared to satisfy every age and taste. From its earliest roots in the 1960s in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, the parish fish fry has gradually grown to a nationwide fundraiser and social gathering for congregations and parishes across the U.S. The entrée selection has evolved from frozen breaded fish sticks into a moveable feast rich in regional fare: salmon, catfish, Alaskan crab, red snapper, calamari. Wines and spirits pair nicely with the catch of the day. Quinoa and kale may soon replace the traditional canned green beans and vinegar slaw.
Yet, there is much more to these Friday night feasts than the obvious social and culinary appeal. For Lent is a time of introspection; a questioning of ourselves and how we might walk this Lenten journey with Jesus. When we take a bite of our salmon or king crab, do we merely savor its deliciousness? Or do we wonder from where it came? Do we think only of how good we feel to outwardly demonstrate our Catholicism at a social event? Or do we think of those without a parish, without a voice, without freedom? Who are the suppliers? For the trafficked person, the fishing industry teems with the trappings of injustice; companies at the top of the seafood chain enslave their workers to ensure high profits.
Will this be the Lenten journey that takes you not only to the parish table but to the world where the scourge of human trafficking exists? Will you speak up in support – or close your eyes – to those suffering and trapped in a world that supplies our dinners? Although Lent has already begun, there is still time to engage.
Parish bulletins or diocese newspapers can provide an opportunity to address the Church’s Lenten’s stance against all forms of social injustice and human suffering. And each of us can reflect, when we are seated at the Lenten table, with whom Jesus would want to walk with on His journey.