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Can I eat meat if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday?

Saint Patricks Day Parade New York City

Jeffrey Bruno

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/14/17

Because what would March 17th be without corned beef?

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As we covered in a previous article, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States instructs the faithful to abstain from eating meat on each Friday of Lent. As the USCCB points out, “Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him.”

Giving up meat was chosen as a worthy sacrifice on a day that is typically a somber day in the liturgical calendar. However, what happens when a “feast day” lands on a Friday during Lent?

St. Patrick’s Day, for example, is always during this penitential season, but is denoted a “solemnity” in Ireland and in many dioceses in the United States. Even in dioceses where it is not officially a feast day, the vast number of Irish faithful has given rise to numerous inquiries on the Lenten observance. It is meant to be a day of great joy and celebration, recognizing the inspiring life of St. Patrick.

So in recognition of the saint that so many in the United States honor and love, many bishops have dispensed their faithful from the typical abstinence from meat.

However, along with this dispensation comes a requirement to perform some other act of penance to substitute for the discipline of abstaining from meat.

This then leads to the obvious question, “Can I eat meat on Saint Patrick’s Day?

The National Catholic Register’s Matt McDonald has done all the hard work and presents a complete and updated map of all the dioceses in the United States that have made dispensations.

In the end, it is truly a day to celebrate but let us not forget to do some other type of sacrifice in honor of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It is something St. Patrick would have wanted us to do.

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