I recently had a surprisingly uplifting conversation with my nine-year-old daughter. Mae, returning from Catholic camp, apologized to me for failing to abstain from meat on her Friday at the camp. In her calculus, Catholic camp would reflect our household, throughout the penitential and ordinary seasons, in that the very basic weekly abstention from land animals would be assumed as a given. It was not. Indignantly, she approached the meal manager at the camp to express her disappointment.
The lunch lady was outright dismissive of her protestation, believing it to be unreasonable to accommodate a relatively normal Catholic practice at a Catholic camp and writing her off on the grounds that few of the campers would follow the observance. Though Mae expressed much disappointment with the encounter, what I found to be positively edifying was her desire to faithfully subscribe to the practice in the first place.
The origin of our familial practice is relatively fresh. I began extending the observance beyond the confines of the Lenten season only within the past few years. Our Friday dinners slowly adapted to my habit, and the kids began asking questions. Up to that point, there had been little demand on anyone within my household to participate beyond those dinners. However, Mae promptly picked it up, packing tuna salads or fish sticks to take to school on Fridays. Friday abstention very quickly situated itself as a central part of her Catholic identity.