We've gone 11 years since St. Patrick's Day on March 17 was on a Friday. If you aren't Catholic, specifically Irish Catholic, you might miss the significance of a Friday with St. Patrick's Day.
The Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday, as well as Ash Wednesday, are days where Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional meal on St. Patrick's Day.
The sacrifice of going without meat for 7 days in the springtime is not a terribly significant sacrifice. But if your desire for corned beef and Irish heritage is stronger than your faith, religion, or desire to sacrifice, then you have a dilemma.
Fortunately for North American Catholics, cardinals actually weigh in to allow Catholics to make an exception. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is giving general dispensation to Catholics concerning March 17. The cardinal does note that Catholics who eat meat should substitute another form of penance. If a cardinal did not weigh in to help out Irish Catholics, that would be news.
As a lapsed recovering Catholic who thought the rules were strange at the time, the idea of moving a meat-free day made sense. If there is a situation with a Friday, such as travel or you are in the hospital and they don't tell you beef broth is in the soup, move it to another day. Take 2 days without meat in lieu of 1 day if karma is a concern.
If you still don't trust the divine world of a Catholic cardinal, bothers you to eat corned beef, celebrate St. Patrick's Day well past midnight local time and start the corned beef after the bewitching hour. You celebrate the holiday with corned beef but you actually eat it on a Saturday.
You could have celebrated with corned beef late Thursday night. Have the corned beef in your mouth before midnight or chew it but swallow the meat at 11:59:59.
You could accidentally forget that it was a Friday as you were eating the corned beef, but the idea is that if you know it was wrong in your heart, you aren't supposed to do it.
In case you thought this was only about corned beef and the Irish, come hear the story of caguama.
In Mexican society, caguama, or sea turtle, is a popular dish because the sea turtles are supposedly a tonic and an aphrodisiac. During Lent, Mexicans eat the sea turtle, believing it qualifies as fish when the sea turtle is meat. There was a push in 2002 to get Pope John Paul II to declare that sea turtles were meat instead of fish.
Reptiles fall into the meat category even if they sometimes live in the water.
"Judge not, and you will not be judged." (Luke 6:37).
I'll play it safe and not judge people based on what they want to be with their religious take on food whether that be Yom Kippur, Ramadan, or meat on Lenten Fridays. Just like you need to follow your own Balance of Food, you need to follow your conscience in how that works.
If you are an overall good person, sneaking a little corned beef on a Friday isn't that high of a priority. Decisions from cardinals can help ease the guilt of potential sin. But you have to go by what is in your heart.
After today, you have 6 more years to wonder what to do before March 17, 2023. That should be plenty of time to debate this dilemma once again.
photo credit: VeryCulinary.com