Fish fries and Lenten promises

Michelle Sullivan

Growing up Catholic, my favorite time of year (besides Christmas, of course!) was always Lent. It was partly because it meant spring was right around the corner, and partly because I loved indulging on candy Easter morning after I'd given it up for 40 days as my Lenten promise. But mostly, it was for the Friday night fish fries. For Catholics, and most Christians, Lent is the (roughly) six-week period before Easter meant to be a time of reflection and repentance. We pray more, eat less and promise to better ourselves by giving something up or doing something more. On Fridays, we don't eat meat, but fish is an accepted alternative.

Some churches, like St. Christopher Catholic Church in Grandview, host spaghetti dinners on Friday evenings, but most-like my parish church in Cincinnati-have a fish fry. And there's nothing quite like them. It's simple food, often served by volunteer parishioners, in a totally laid-back environment. There's a certain sense of community that comes with sharing a meal among people-even if they're strangers-who are there for the same reason you are. There are plenty of local fish fries to choose from, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus posted this convenient list on their website to help you locate one.

Even though I no longer spend my Friday nights during Lent in the basement of my childhood church, munching on fish and chips and drinking cans of Surge, I like to attend at least one each year for the pure nostalgia of it-and for an excuse to eat fried food without the guilt.

In all seriousness, Lent still is my favorite time of year. It still is partly because spring is right around the corner, and partly because of the excitement a new beginning brings. But mostly, it reminds me to take time to reflect on the year that has passed, acknowledge my shortcomings, and do better. And that's something we all can find value in-no matter what our beliefs may be.