I vote no.
Rocco of Whispers in the Loggia asked the question this morning if chicken broth sans the chicken itself can be used today (as a Friday in Lent). A reader pointed him to Jimmy Akin (another Catholic blogger) who said yes.
I’m not a canon lawyer, but you don’t need to be to get a reasonable answer. The beauty of the Catholic faith is 99% of the teachings, rules and regulations simply make sense if you accept the premises and the authority of the Church to decree certain things, such as the whole notion of Lent.
First, the canon law argument. Mr. Akin tries to claim that since the 1917 Canon Law prohibits “meat and soups of meat, but not” milks, etc and that the Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini of Paul VI (which establishes the rules in force) simply says “use of meat, but not…”, we are no longer bound to avoid soups of meat. Wait… No, sir.
I don’t know how you make chicken broth, but in my house, we take leftover pieces of chicken and leftover pieces of vegetables, place them in water and leave it heating on the stove a long time. Then, we extract the solid and the remaining liquid is the broth. I’m just a simple layman, but that seems to be using meat.
Paul VI, of blessed memory, stated that milk, eggs and condiments rendered from animal fat are acceptable. Thank you, as I have zero idea what is in any of my condiments. Wouldn’t it be easy to add broths if such an exemption was foreseen?
Is it that we have divorced the process of making chicken broth since majority of people grab a box or can from a shelf and call it a day?
Penance isn’t supposed to be easy. It isn’t meant to only be done by the superhuman either. Across the board, things in life that make us better are hard.
I want to lose 25 pounds. I’m not going to do it by only walking around the block until it becomes hard. (That may be a start depending on your life circumstances). I can go out right now and run four miles. Run all of it. Damn slow, but I can do it. If I seriously expect results, I need to push myself.
I want to earn a Master’s degree. I’m not going to do it by only reading material I find interesting until I get sleepy at night. I have to work at it. Study both the interesting and the dull. Write the thousand words that come easy and the thousand words that does not. My friend Nate had, seemingly, 19,000 lasers break on him during his PhD research. Was it easy to continue? No. But Dr. Nate did.
I want my family to continue to grow in a house full of love. I’m not going to do it by only doing what is easy around the house. A grocery store trip, two baths for a two- and an one-year-old and cooking dinner in the same 90-minute window isn’t easy.
I want to become closer to God. I’m not going to do it only by going to church on Sundays when I happen to wake up early enough.
Do you see the pattern? Penance is supposed to be attainable, but should require us to stretch. Someone who is vegan has the meatless Friday gig down, but perhaps they should voluntarily give up soy on Fridays. The point of the Friday penance isn’t not eating meat—it is to grow, to be drawn into conversion, to change our hearts. Paul VI says as much in the first chapter of Paenitemini.
At the same time, if you forget it’s a Friday of Lent or started making a recipe and mistakenly missed that it included a meat broth or ordered a meal at a restaurant, then remembered too late to reverse the action (e.g. stop cooking without wasting the food, change the order before the cooks made it, able to use a veggie broth instead, etc), then just eat the food. My personal thought is the waste of food is not the intention of the penance. Learn from the mistake, pay more attention next time and include it as part of your Lenten confession package.
Call me old-fashioned or oppressive, but leave the broth in the pantry today, okay?