« What I'm working on | Main | Ratzinger's Early Years »

March 16, 2006




Excellent points...

The Orthodox don't even take dairy during Lent. They abstain the whole way through, although some do allow fish.

Saint Patrick's Day: I wonder when there will merely be "P Day" celebrated by green beer, etc. and perhaps there will be the "Booze Monologues" playing on Catholic campuses to the chagrin of the Cardinal Newman Society. :) lol

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

The indults are not for corned beef. The indults are dispensatiions from abstinence. If it belongs to the animal kingdom, eat it no questions asked.


Man, am I glad I just love cod. Happy St. Patrick's day, everybody.


TV news shows in North Central Florida just love the dispensation for St Patrick's Day...
I must have heard it alluded to 5 times in the last 24 hours. Sheesh!


None of the Orthodox Greeks I know keep the whole 40 day fast although they might speak of their grandmothers who keep the fast. Some keep the last week ; no oil, no dairy, no meat.

Some of the traditional food eaten in Holy Week are baccala (salt fish), halva (a sweet with nuts) and fasoulatha (vegetable soup with beans).


I don't feel really Irish unless I'm having a famine, your excellencies, and that just happens to coincide neatly with the season.


Terry, as an Englishman it upsets me when you blame the persercution of the Irish on the British - the Irish are British (inhabitants of the British Isles, geographical not political terminology). No, put the blame on us English, where it belongs. And that goes for the Anglo-French thing too: it gets to be a habit after a 1,000 years. Still as one of the few English Catholics whose family suffered for its faith these last 450 years I think we can tell you something about persercution.

Donald R. McClarey

I hate corned beef! Now, as hundreds of generations of dead McClareys in the next world stand appalled, let me hasten to add that I have no problem with the indult. Bishop Jenky has issued such an indult for the Peoria diocese, and he is as orthodox as they come. It is a harmless thing, and quite in line with the power of the Church to bind and to loose.


So the tradition of eating meat on Patrick’s Day (sic) trumps the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays. Secular team scores another point, thanks to our bishops.

Charles Collins

Well, the Orthodox are also a little less freaked out by putting feasts in the middle of lent, too.

I am all for Catholic identity badges. I think that these are the small things that bring people back, even if it is just to call a priest after they get hit by the truck (anything that makes someone feel themselves to be a "bad Catholic" as opposed to an "ex-Catholic" is okay by me.)

But that is besides the point, I don't think people wanting to celebrate St. Patrick's Day goes "against" Lent at all!

It is okay to "celebrate" during Lent.

I remember when I worked for a Diocese several years ago, there was a crisis because the Diocesan Youth "Gathering" was going on, and the Youth Director had forgotten it was a Friday in Lent. The big problem was that all the priests of the Diocese were finishing their retreat, and so no one could dispense the kids so they could partake of the giant BBQ lunch which had been prepared for them.

Yours truly (who was working at the Tribunal at the time) was the only person in the chancery who seemed to know it was March 19th, the Solemnity of St. Jospeh, and there was no abstinence that day. Heck, the Gloria is sung at Mass.

Saved the day, huh? No, not at all! Because, who cares what the Church says, it's still a Friday during Lent!!!

Talk about being more Catholic than the Pope! Try to get people not to celebrate St. Joseph's in Italy, and you will have a riot.

The reason that it is a tradition to eat meat on St. Patty's day, even though it falls during Lent, is because it is a Solemnity in Ireland, and abstinence does not apply.

Given the number of Dioceses, Cathedrals, and Parishes where St. Patrick is the patron (and therefore making it a solemnity in those geographic areas), abstinence doesn't apply in a good portion of the U.S. Church.

The reason that all these Catholic are looking for the indult is because the "institutional" memory of the U.S. Church is very Irish, and St. Patrick's is a holiday!

So here is a solution to this crisis, which occurs every few years: Have the bishops apply to the Holy See to make St. Patrick's Day a Solemnity in the Church in the United States, given the importance of Irish missionaries to the Church, and the strong (and I mean strong) devotion of the Catholics in the country to the Saint. Then abstinence will never apply on St. Patrick's day (Unless if falls during the Triduum, at which point the feast is transferred).

Then we can end this silly game for the rest of time.

Steve Cavanaugh

I second Charlie Collins' comments (except that it's not "St. Patty's Day" it's "St. Paddy's Day"--Patty is short for Patricia, not Patrick : ).

It would do a world of good for many of the bemoaners of our too loose discipline to read Romans chapter 14 and apply that to today. It would also put things in perpective to note that where St. Patrick is the patron saint (as in the Archdiocese of Boston) the day is thereby a solemnity, and like the Solemnities of St. Joseph and Annunciation, are not days of fast and abstinence.

As for the Eastern fasting customs, it is also worthwhile to note that while a much stricter regimen is urged upon the laity of the East, it is not obligatory, i.e., it does not bind under pain of sin. That is why many Orthodox are more rigorous in the first week of Lent and in Holy Week (not counted as part of their Lent) but relax discipline to varying degrees in between.

Here in Boston we too have been urged to do more. Archbishop O'Malley has requested all Catholics to attend daily Mass and fast every day during Lent. But he gets no credit for that.


"do you think the Orthodox are fiddling with their Lenten fasts and hankering for their indults...Not by half.)"

Yep. Abstaining from eggs and dairy, too -- now that's a fast.

Abstinence rules from meat really don't have any relevance for me as I am vegetarian, and let me tell you, giving up a hamburger can be easy compared to finding another spiritual sacrifice to offer to the Lord, especially on the Fridays of Lent.

Fr Martin Fox (Septimus)

Remember, human nature is one thing that changes very little; meaning, if you could get in a time machine and go back 100, 500, 1,000 years, I bet you'd find all manner of silliness and strangeness about Catholic practice of spirituality (cohabiting couples careful to abstain from meat, a la 2006) to match ours.

Our archbishop said the dispensation pertained to celebrations of the saint; so say "Hail, St. Patrick" every time you take a bite of meat today!

I think there's no point in getting upset or concerned; simply laugh at the great comedy of it all--a Shakespearean (sorry, but he's who came to mind--no ethnic points being scored) play for the Almighty to watch!


Oh, lighten up, everyone. I find it very funny how seriously everyone is taking this, you especially Amy. But perhaps it's because you're not Irish...

Note that there are some bishops saying "Oh please, leave me alone. My flock can decide for themselves..." THAT from good bishops who have far more important things to worry about than Irish Americans and their corned beef...

Even funnier are the ones who "refuse" an indult. "Oh, okay, now I need to spend $10/lb on salmon as opposed to $4/lb on corned beef. That's such a Lenten sacrifice..."

-Brigid (A great day for me and my beer and Salmon. No one in Ireland is eating corned beef today 'cause, have you ever tried Irish corned beef?)

Dave Wells

The minimalization and trivialization of Lent in modern Catholic life is sad. During a recent RCIA class in my parish, we had a discussion about the Church's requirements on fasting and abstinence. Our parish bulletin, in describing the Ash Wednesday fast, indicated that there was to be no eating between meals. That it- no snacks! People in our class were hung up on "what's the minimum I have to do to be a good Catholic?"

Somehow, we've missed the entire point of penitential practices - no doubt because we've somehow missed the fact that we are sinners in need of repentance and salvation.

My Orthodox friends (many of whom are converts) make me ashamed of my paltry efforts at self-denial during Lent. And they always seem to have a greater celebration at Easter/Pascha. Hmmmm. I wonder...


$10/lb salmon?

How about 50 cents for a can of tuna?

Or sardines?

Or eggs at under 10 cents a piece?

Actually, I do this all the time. I don't have money, but I can't stand ramen noodles.

There! That's my penance ...

Sandra Miesel

There were dispensations from Friday abtinence for St. Patrick's Day even before the Council. My college used to have a mixer that day because Lenten rules didn't apply--and this was in a city where the Catholics were more Slavic and German than Irish. In high school, we were dispensed from wearing the uniform on St. Patrick's Day and the Polish girls sniffed that they should have the same privilege for St. Joseph's Day.

And by the way, today is also the feast day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles, patroness of mice.


Let's see, the Irish caused the Jansenist heresy to continue into the 20th Century and brought it to this country. Their narrow-minded nationalism spawned the Polish National Catholic Church in the 19th Century. Remind me again why I should like them?? Ah, yes, their folk music.


You don't have to like us, Matthew.

You just have to thank the us for the preservation of the written word which you use today.


Go Google that...


"the us"


obviously this irish girl still needs to learn to preview her "snippy posts" first...

jill sawyer

Ah, you're all jealous because you're not Irish. (I am, tee hee.) Seriously, I have a friend from Dublin who thinks that all this business about corned beef on Friday is silly. There's quite a difference between "Irish American" and "real Irish" customs. Personally, I draw the line at green beer.

 Other Marc

I think Amy's point was spot on. The problem isn't so much with the dispensation of the Lenten abstinence for that single day. The problem is much deeper-the loss of a "penitential sensibility" or the "loss of the sense of sin". If we still had this sensibility then dispensing with the abstinence wouldn't be so strange because people would be doing penances in other ways and on other days.

Oh, the rationale that this dispensation needs to be done because of the sense of community that eating corned beef brings rings very, very hollow to me. Hello, your excellency! If you go down to O'Brien's Pub you'll see a whole slew of agnostics drinking green beer and having a corned beef sandwhich. Nothing particularly Catholic about that. When I grew up Lutheran, I knew the who the Catholic kids were because they had cheese sandwhiches on Fridays, not because they wore green on March 17th. Everyone wore green. Only the Catholics ate cheese sandwhiches.


Let's add this:

You surely know that in discussions of American liturgical life the blame always falls back on the Irish - the Irish valued quick liturgies, didn't have a traditional of congregational singing, etc.

Thanks again, Irish!


I don't see how St. Patrick's indult is secular at all. The variation is between a Lenten day of abstinence and a religious feats--in two years won't we have the same dilemma for the Italians' St. Joseph's table?

I agree that we all persist in our sinful ways, and abstinence is a custom that can call us to mind. But actually celebrating a religious feast can do the same.


Fortiterine asks: won't we have the same dilemma for the Italians' St. Joseph's table?

As an Italian, I am not worried about St. Joseph’s Day on a Friday. We can cook up a wonderful Italian feast without meat. There lies the rub: the limitations of Irish cuisine.

Charles Collins

Again, no dilemma for St. Joseph's...

It's not "Italian", it's "Universal", and is a Solemnity for the entire Church.

Therefore, meat is okay...

Why can't we have the same for St. Patrick?

(By the way, the other Solemnity that often, but not always, falls during Lent is the Annunciation).


"When I grew up Lutheran, I knew the who the Catholic kids were because they had cheese sandwhiches on Fridays, not because they wore green on March 17th. Everyone wore green. Only the Catholics ate cheese sandwhiches."

Other Marc, my experience growing up Lutheran was the same. And I have to say, the attitude of my sister's Irish-born father-in-law wasn't quite as flippant as Brigid's. It's not a matter of "lightening up." Too many of our generation have forgotten that penitential practices are meant to point us to a much higher, deeper truth and connection with the Lord. It's that factor that many Orthodox seem to take more seriously.

The point about cohabiting couples who nevertheless give up corned beef more than amply demonstrates how utterly they've missed the point.

Clare Alice

Should people who can't do everything right give up altogether? Or should they do what they can?

I once knew a young Catholic man who lived with his Catholic girlfriend. He complained to me that his girlfriend expected him to say prayers with her every night. I told him there was something pretty incongruous about the situation. But you know what? Eventually they married in the Church.

There is such a thing as grace, even for couples who only manage to give up meat on Fridays in Lent.


It's certainly a source of embarrassment for those of us of mixed marriages. There is an aspect of "straining at gnats" that seems to give credence to the Pharsectical mindset that Catholicism is often characterized as having.

Of course every religious group has something to be embarrassed about (i.e. think televangelists). And at least this is all much less embarrassing than The Situation.

The French-Canadians and the Irish both play a really mean fiddle. I could listen to Cajun music or Irish jigs any day.


If anything, the discussion in the news over the "indult" at least reminded people that St. Patrick's Day has something to do with Catholicism, and is more than just a day to drink and wear cheesy green buttons (niether which I have a probelm with...just needs to be integrated into the genuine spirit of the day)


"Should people who can't do everything right give up altogether? Or should they do what they can?"

Well -- I guess a lot depends on "situation." Some things fall far shorter of Christian values than others.

Terry Mattingly is an Orthodox Christian and his article raises some valid issues.

There was a time when everyone understood "couples" to mean "married" couples. The common Catholic (indeed, Christian) understanding was taken from the teachings of the Church and Scripture that viewed marriage as reflective of the nuptial dimension of God and his people.

What worries me is the contemporary disconnect in a young couple that sees the "value" of giving up meat while having lived in a day to day relationship outside of the intent of God and his church. It sends a message to an already permissive culture.

As for me, I'm glad that the "pharisaical" strain, as it is called by some, in the Catholic Church has continued to value marriage, human life, and other aspects of the Christian life that have been minimized in some other traditions.

Blind Squirrel

Recusant--those Scots Presbyterians managed to pile up a fair number of skulls in the north-east in the course of the C17 plantations. (The Welsh don't seem to have done much, except force the odd Irishman to eat a leek against his will. Or so I gather from "Henry V," anyway.)

As for "the Irish are British" on the basis of the expression "British Isles"? Yeesh. Don't even know where to begin with that one.


The word "British" I always thought was a referrence to the Celtic peoples of what is now Wales and England (and northern France). But the Irish and Scottish Celts were Gaelic and a different branch of the Celtic family than Britons, so it would seem dumb to refer, especially to Ireland, as "British" in any way.

I could be wrong; but referring to Irish as British still irks me.

And a lot of those young couples living in relationships outside of the Church's teaching often have sadly never heard anything about the Church's teaching beyond "don't", or they look to their parents as the interpreters of Church morality and the parents don't care, so the kids think its not a big deal. Although on a bare practical level, I can't think of anything dumber than merging a life with someone you've made no commitment with. I've helped people move out of a boyfriends apartement after living together for only a few months only to break up and have to go through a little mini-"divorce". Aside from the spiritual consequences, what a royal pain.

Blind Squirrel

If we're going to be pedantic about it (and why not!) "British" should refer only to Brythonic-speakers and their linguistic descendants. As AW correctly says, the Irish and Scots, as Q-Celtic speakers, never fit into that category.

One doesn't hear the expression "British Isles" in Ireland--the Republic and the Nationalist areas of the Six Counties anyway--partly for obvious reasons, but also partly because such a geographical association doesn't come as naturally to the Irish as, no doubt, it does to Britons. The latter tend to define themselves over against the European continent; the former don't.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)