John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Early thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

I heard on All Things Considered this evening that a great many Roman Catholic bishops have granted special dispensation to their parishioners so they may eat meat tomorrow. You see, traditionally, Roman Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays, especially Fridays during Lent. But tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, and certain American Catholics of Irish descent were aghast at the idea of celebrating the holiday without eating corned beef and cabbage. Hence, the dispensation. I have three thoughts on this.

Thought the first: corned beef and cabbage is, in my opinion, disgusting. A day on which you're not allowed to eat corned beef and cabbage sounds like a fine idea to me.

Thought the second: Allowing people to eat meat on St. Patrick's Day when it happens to fall on a Friday during Lent seems to me to be akin to canceling your worship service when Christmas happens to fall on a Sunday. The whole point of Lent is to recognize Jesus Christ's 40-day fast in the wilderness by undertaking a symbolic fast of your own. That's what Mardi Gras is all about: it's your last chance to whoop it up before the forty days of fasting and sorrowful reflection. If there's one time during the liturgical year during which Roman Catholics should not under any circumstance eat meat, it's Lent. One might therefore argue that this special St. Patrick's Day dispensation is borderline blasphemous.

Thought the third: On the other hand, Roman Catholics routinely eat fish on Fridays, even during Lent, and the last time I looked, fish is meat. So maybe it's not that big a deal after all, since most people don't seem to take it very seriously in the first place.

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