ST. LOUIS – For most Christian denominations, Lent is regarded as a period of fasting and sacrifice.

Catholics have long adhered to the tradition of forgoing meat eating on Fridays during this period, which spurred the creation of fish fry events in communities.

But with St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday this year, folks who want to celebrate the feast day by partaking in corn beef and cabbage find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis says not to worry; Catholics can have their meat and eat it, too! The archdiocese has issued a St. Patrick’s Day dispensation, granting them permission to indulge in meat eating should they so choose.

You can read the archdiocese’s statement below in its entirety.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

The Church has always helped us fulfill these words of Jesus by prescribing very definite penance for all Catholics, so that we too might have Eternal life. Accordingly, the Pope and the American Bishops have outlined obligatory fast and abstinence as follows:

Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22), all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday (April 7) are days of abstinence (refraining from meat) for all Catholics from age 14 onwards. On these two days, fast, as well as abstinence, is also obligatory for those from the ages of 18-59. Abstinence means refraining from meat. Fast means one full meal a day, with two smaller meals and nothing between meals (liquids are permitted). No Catholic will lightly excuse himself or herself from this obligation.

The feast of St. Patrick (March 17) falls on a Friday during Lent this year. Feasts of the Church are meant to be a day of celebration and rejoicing, so on this Friday, March 17, 2023, the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis are dispensed from abstaining from meat should they choose to celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick.

We should strive to make all days of Lent a time of prayer and penance.

Archdiocesan Lenten Regulations 2023