Such talk would have been blasphemy in Catholic neighborhoods a generation ago, when Catholics were forbidden ``under pain of mortal sin'' to eat meat on Fridays.
``In my house, Friday dinner meant smelts, mashed potatoes and stewed tomatoes,'' Monsignor Charles Barth, pastor of St. Peter's Church in Merchantville, Burlington County, recalled with a laugh.
Those were the days before the Second Vatican Council, when a chicken leg, a morsel of meat loaf - yes, a mere bite of kielbasa - carried all the moral hazard of unmarried sex: one moment of weakness and your soul might crackle for eternity in the fires of hell.
For most Catholics, meatless Friday was as central to Catholic identity as Saturday confession, Sunday Mass and nuns who could tell by the look in your eye whether you'd done your homework.
Ah, but that was then. This is now, when happy hour and ``Thank God it's Friday'' are about as reverent as some folks get at week's end.
The Second Vatican Council rescinded the meatless Friday rule in 1967, but it did so in the hope that individual Catholics would continue to engage in spiritual disciplines of their own making.
In its 1983 ``peace pastoral,'' the American bishops called on the faithful to fast, meaning to eat sparingly, or to abstain from favorite foods on Fridays as a way of meditating on and protesting violence, including abortion.
Now, the approximately 300 Catholic bishops, archbishops and cardinals of the United States are wondering if it might be time once again to make Friday a day of mindfulness and self-denial.
Chicago Archbishop Francis E. George, speaking Monday at the start of the bishops' annual conference in Washington, said he had not ``seen a great deal of evidence'' that the 1983 call for spiritual discipline had taken root.
The bishops voted unanimously that day to undertake a study of restoring abstemious Fridays as a way to combat the ``culture of death.''
The plan was proposed by the Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life, chaired by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. The committee will present a more detailed proposal to the bishop's annual conference next year. The bishops, by majority vote, can decide such matters of spiritual discipline for U.S. Catholics.
``We don't want to limit the penitential practice simply to abstaining from meat,'' said the Rev. James McHugh, bishop of the Diocese of Camden and a member of the committee. ``We'll be evaluating whether to widen the possibilities of Friday as a day of penance, abstinence and reparation.
``Many people today already avoid meat for health reasons, so we may recommend other beneficial penitential practices, such as limiting the amount of food at a meal, or forgoing pleasurable items such as cocktails or candy,'' the bishop said by phone from Washington.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia, who also serves on the pro-life committee, was unavailable yesterday, but the Catholic News Service quoted him as saying that abstinence means more than having ``a good lobster meal'' instead of a steak.
Cardinal Bevilacqua urged that penitential practices include both fasting and abstinence. The church understands a day of fasting to mean one full meal and two smaller meals which, combined, amount to less than a full meal. Abstinence means forgoing something completely.
Bevilacqua said that if the bishops next year approve the reinstitution of meatless Friday, it will not impose it ``under penalty of sin,'' but rather ``frame it in a positive way . . . as a day of prayerful concern.''
And while Beau Bochniak may still be enjoying Friday kielbasas, Fran Arnold - a parishioner at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Northeast Philadelphia - says meatless Fridays would be no problem at all.
``I already try to do that on Wednesdays and Fridays,'' said Arnold, who thinks a return to meatless Fridays is long overdue. ``It's very little, what [the bishops] ask of us nowadays.
``Eating a cheese pizza on a Friday night could be a point of reflection - a spiritual thing,'' said Arnold, who listens to bishops.
``If they told me to walk around the block in shorts in midwinter,'' she said, ``I'd do it.''