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Have That Burger on These Lenten Fridays


Are there exceptions for not eating meat on Fridays during Lent?


There are a few exceptions. For example, the Code of Canon Law says, “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday” (can. 1251).

In the United States, that means if March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) or March 25 falls on a Friday other than Good Friday during Lent, you would be exempt from meat abstinence, as those dates are normally solemnities. (BTW, penance is greatly encouraged, though not required, on Fridays outside of Lent by the U.S. bishops, and the penance need not be in the form of abstinence from meat.)

In addition, sometimes diocesan bishops provide a dispensation on a Lenten Friday, such as when St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) lands on a Friday, as it did this year. And if you happen to be traveling to another diocese on St. Patrick’s Day, i.e., when it falls on Lenten Friday again, you should observe the regulation of that diocesan bishop.


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