In way of review, please re-read my post from six years ago. This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Lenten Friday, a day when we Catholics abstain from meat. Yet even now we hear of Catholics asking for dispensation from the already-lenient Lenten discipline to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Sadly - because many chanceries care not one whit about Lenten discipline nor even of eternal things in general, these chanceries will grant the dispensations without a minute's thought.
As I said in the post, I myself am of predominantly Irish descent. Moreover, I grew up in the 1960s, when most Catholics were also of Irish descent and who were closely descended from Irish immigrants. Yet never did I hear the slightest hint of suggestion that the Lenten practises should be set aside when March 17 fell on a Lenten Friday. In fact, that was during a time when every day during Lent (not just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) was a day of fast. It is true that in Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is a Holy Day of Obligation, owing to St Patrick's pivotal role in the founding of their nation. But those who came to the United States understood that they were leaving behind their national customs and were prepared to observe the customs of their new homeland.
On social media, particularly facebook, I'm seeing otherwise faithful Catholics chortle over the dispensations, like naughty little children about to get away with extra dessert. To me that betrays a bit of reluctance to subject oneself to necessary disciplines. How they salivate over corned beef has nothing to do with honoring the saint who is at least partially responsible for their Faith and more to do with satisfying their taste buds and stomachs.
We can - we must - do better than that. Honor St. Patrick by honoring Lent. Abstain from meat, dispensation notwithstanding. Do not drink to the point of sinful intoxication (yes, all intoxication is sinful). Do not trifle with leprechauns and other accoutrements of pagan practice. Understand that there is nothing special about the color green. Instead, go to Mass, pray a Rosary and/or stations of the Cross - practices that would truly please St. Patrick.
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