DAY 17: Friday, March 17th (Fasting and Full Abstinence***)
1917 Fast Observance Today*: Fasting, maximum food intake is one meal, along with two snacks (that together don’t equate to a meal). No snacking in between that and no alcohol consumption today.
*Applicable to healthy adults between ages of 21-60 (some exemptions exist – see 1917 Fast: The Specifics)
1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Full abstinence, no meat or meat products for the universal Church. Partial abstinence in some locales/dioceses *** Those faithful that received the indult are called to perform some other form of sacrifice today instead.
**Applicable to all age 7 and over.
*** Some Bishops have issued “Corned Beef” indults today allowing the faithful within respective archdioceses to forgo abstinence in celebration of the feast of St. Patrick. My Archdioceses of Boston is one of those receiving the indult. Given that the history of St. Patrick’s feast day extends before 1917 in most Irish-Catholic regions, and in particular, Ireland, it is safe to assume that local bishops in those regions also granted indults to eat meat on this feast day during Lent.
The following local churches are generally dispensed or granted a commutation from Lenten abstinence by act of the respective (arch)bishop or the proper solemnity of the diocesan patron –
All dioceses of Wisconsin and Georgia
Archdioceses of Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dubuque, Galveston-Houston, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City in Kansas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, The Military Services USA, Mobile, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia, Saint Paul and Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC
Dioceses of Albany, Allentown, Arlington, Austin, Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Belleville, Birmingham, Boise, Bridgeport, Brooklyn, Brownsville, Buffalo, Burlington, Camden, Charleston, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Corpus Christi, Covington, Dallas, Davenport, Des Moines, Duluth, Erie, Fall River, Fargo, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Fort Worth, Fresno, Gary, Gaylord, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Honolulu, Jackson, Jefferson City, Joliet, Juneau, Kalamazoo, Kansas City-St Joseph, Knoxville, Lafayette (La.), Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Lexington, Manchester, Memphis, Metuchen, Nashville, Norwich, Oakland, Ogdensburg, Owensboro, Palm Beach, Paterson, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Peoria, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (Maine), Providence, Raleigh, Rochester, Rockford, Rockville Centre, Sacramento, St Augustine, St Cloud, St Petersburg, San Bernardino, San Diego, Scranton, Spokane, Springfield (Mass.), Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Steubenville, Stockton, Syracuse, Toledo, Tucson, Tyler, Venice (Florida), Victoria, Wheeling-Charleston, Wilmington, Winona, Worcester, Yakima, Youngstown
Potential Prayer: The Lorica of St. Patrick (http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/patrick.htm) and The Sorrowful Mysteries
Potential Fast Intention: That those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day seek to celebrate the saint and his devotion to God liturgically first, culturally second and commercially third, if at all.
Potential Give: Consider donating to the Ancient Order of Hibernians today: http://www.aoh.com/donations/
Fasting Inspiration for the Day: St. Patrick, (b.385-d.461), patron saint of Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, Archdiocese of New York, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Boston, Rolla, Missouri, Loíza, Puerto Rico, Murcia (Spain), Clann Giolla Phádraig, engineers, paralegals, Archdiocese of Melbourne; invoked against snakes, sins[1
While St. Patrick was enslaved as a young man in Ireland, he endured long bouts of hunger. Soon he began to pray and fast, constantly.
From the 7th century biography of his life by Tirechan, we read:
“I would pray constantly during the daylight hours,” he later recalled. “The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more. And faith grew. And the spirit roused so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night only slightly less.”
After six years of slavery, Patrick received a supernatural message. “You do well to fast,” a mysterious voice said to him. “Soon you will return to your homeland.”
Miracle of the Pigs
After a three-day journey, the men landed in Gaul (modern France), where they found only devastation. Goths or Vandals had so decimated the land that no food was to be found in the once fertile area.
“What have you to say for yourself, Christian?” the ship’s captain taunted. “You boast that your God is all powerful. We’re starving to death, and we may not survive to see another soul.”
Patrick answered confidently. “Nothing is impossible to God. Turn to him and he will send us food for our journey.”
At that moment, a herd of pigs appeared, “seeming to block our path.” Though Patrick instantly became “well regarded in their eyes,” his companions offered their new-found food in sacrifice to their pagan gods.
From Tirechan’s Saint Patrick’s Confessio
(1) And Patrick proceeded to Mons Aiglí, intending to fast there for forty days and forty nights, following the example of Moses, Elias, and Christ. .. And Patrick proceeded to the summit of the mountain, climbing Cruachán Aigli, and stayed there forty days and forty nights, and birds were troublesome to him and he could not see the face of sky and land and sea <…>(4) because to all the holy men of Ireland, past, present, and future, God said: ‘Climb, o holy men, to the top of the mountain which towers above, and is higher than all the mountains to the west of the sun in order to bless the people of Ireland’, so that Patrick might see the fruit of his labours, because the choir of all the holy men of the Irish came to him to visit their father; and he established a church in Mag Humail.
For forty days, Patrick fasted upon that wild summit, demanding Divine Mercy upon the Irish race. For forty days, he prayed even as the beleaguered demons ranged round the crags in the shape of black birds of prey, swooping and screaming to disturb the holy bishop in his meditations. For forty days Patrick suffered in isolation, until he was finally given heaven’s covenant: that those Irish who did penance for their sins would be borne to heaven; that the barbarians would never conquer the Church in Ireland; and that the Irish people would enjoy final perseverance even unto Judgment Day, upon which Day of Doom, it would fall to Patrick to pass judgment over his beloved flock. These promises made from on high, legend says the Patrick rang a great iron bell from the crest of the mountain, whose tolling echoed over Erin’s Isle, scattering all evil creatures—particularly snakes—who rushed in terror into the sea. The prayer of St. Patrick had been heard and answered.
The earliest known image of Saint Patrick, from a 13th-century manuscript, shows him wearing a blue cassock. (Photo: Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)
Comments of the Day: Many of St. Patrick’s celebrated miracles, revolve around fasting and food. St. Patrick saves the souls of penitent Irish and frees the country from the snakes roaming the land through his 40-day fast and prayer retreat. His first locution comes as a result of gaining favor with God via his ardent fasting.
Let us remember that fasting is instrumental to obtaining God’s graces and although we may be able to break the abstinence in some dioceses, we are still bound to fast under the 1917 Code, and to honor Saint Patrick probably in the way he would most want us to honor him, by following Jesus into the Lenten desert and turning away from excesses and things that distract us from God.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!