ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Catholics around the country are in the midst of Lent, which has meat restrictions every Friday.
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on that day this year, Bishop David Mallow of the Diocese of Rockford announced that dietary restriction will be temporarily lifted for those in Rockford.
How to honor the holiday in the most respectful way was at the front of the diocese’s minds. It does come at a cost, but that cost is giving back to the community.
“When St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, we want to honor those cultural roots,” said Father Jonathan Baakelund, director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Rockford.
Some people were not sure if they would be able to feast on corned beef this year, because Catholics are restricted from meat on Fridays during Lent.
“So, Jesus died on a Friday, and it’s always been the Christian tradition that then in remembrance of his crucifixion, Friday would be the day we kind of sacrifice or offer something up,” Baakelund said. “So, the church says meat is so attached to feasting and has a festive character that on the Fridays of Lent that we would abstain from that.”
Malloy made the dispensation for folks to lift that dietary restriction for one day only, and there are ways to makeup for this by performing an act of charity.
“Because there are so many Irish-American Catholics, part of the tradition, you know, is to have corned beef on the great apostle of Ireland’s feast day, many of the bishops, ours in particular in the Diocese of Rockford, had said, ‘for this year, since St. Patrick’s falls on a Friday, you can eat meat,'” Baakelund said. “But, it is a fun little asterisk to note he did also encourage transferring the penance to another day.”
According to the National Catholic Register, 70% of diocese in America made this decision this year.
“Whoever the local bishop would be, it’s left up to their prayer, reflection, and good judgement on what would be the best for the care of souls for their Diocese, and Bishop Malloy thought that making a dispensation would be a good thing for folks,” Baakelund said.
The Diocese of Rockford told residents to enjoy the corned beef and green beer, but to make sure to keep in their minds that it is Lent and to understand the value of observing this time in the Catholic religion.