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

Jeffrey Bruno

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/14/17

Because what would March 17th be without corned beef?

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? Saint 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 Saint 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.

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

Rocco Palmo has done all the hard work and presents a complete and updated list of all the dioceses in the United States that have made dispensations.

All dioceses of Wisconsin and Georgia

Archdioceses of Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dubuque, Galveston-Houston, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City in Kansas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, The Military Services USA, Mobile, Newark, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia, Saint Paul and Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC

Dioceses of Albany, Allentown, Arlington, Belleville, Birmingham, Boise, Bridgeport, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Burlington, Camden, Charleston, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Davenport, Des Moines, Fall River, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Fort Worth, Gaylord, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Honolulu, Jackson, Jefferson City, Joliet, Kalamazoo, Kansas City-St Joseph, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Lexington, Manchester, Metuchen, Norwich, Oakland, Ogdensburg, Owensboro, Palm Beach, Paterson, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (Maine), Providence, Raleigh, Rochester, Rockford, Rockville Centre, Sacramento, St Cloud, San Bernardino, Scranton, Spokane, Springfield (Mass.), Syracuse, Toledo, Tucson, Tyler, Venice (Florida), Victoria, Wilmington, Winona, Worcester, Yakima, Youngstown

There are a few other dioceses that have made specific qualifications and only two that made statements saying there will be no dispensation — Palmo gives the complete list on his blog.

Palmo also makes an astute observation regarding the need to realize that this does not dispense from making other sacrifices for that day.

“[T]o be clear, nobody’s getting off scot-free regardless of local policy – in each instance where the indult’s been granted, the move is accompanied by a pro forma encouragement (albeit not an order) that abstinence should either be transferred to the prior or following day, or that some other act of penance or charity be substituted for digging into the beef.”

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 Saint Patrick would have wanted us to do.

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