By George P. Matysek Jr.
Catholics wishing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a feast of corned beef and cabbage may still do so this year, even though March 17 falls on a Friday of Lent – a day of abstinence from meat.
Archbishop William E. Lori has granted Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore a dispensation, an exemption, from the obligation to abstain from meat that day. Catholics who take advantage of the dispensation are encouraged to make some other suitable response in lieu of abstaining March 17.
Lent, a 40-day penitential period of preparation for Easter, begins Ash Wednesday, March 1 this year. Lenten guidelines in the United States require Catholics age 14 and older to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays during Lent. Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are additionally asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.