Friday, March 19, 2010

Please Eat Meat This Friday

Before you think that I've gone off the reservation, this Friday, March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. What is a Solemnity?
A Solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church observes an event in the life of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, beginning on the evening prior to actual date. Solemnity is made up of Latin words solet and annus, meaning a yearly (annual) celebration. They are observed throughout the entire Church.
In terms of importance, Solemnities are the biggest celebrations and observances in the Catholic Church. To put it in perspective, two of the other seventeen Solemnities are Christmas and Easter. After Solemnities, come feasts and then memorials.

Since it doesn't really get any bigger, it is safe to say that a solemnity is a party day, a celebration. Therefore it is appropriate to act joyous -- even during Lent. In fact, you don't have to abstain from meat on this Friday in Lent. Our priest even went so far one year as to say: please eat meat this Friday.
According to Canon 1251, abstinence from meat is lifted on Fridays that occur on a Solemnity. Faithful who eat meat on March 19, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, would not be breaking the Lenten law of abstinence. Source:
Naturally, this feels like it goes against the grain of what we've been taught as faithful Catholics. People get very nervous, as if the Meat Patrol will catch them and punish them for eating meat on a Friday in Lent. Some will say that this is just taking advantage of a loophole, being legalistic, or may just feel guilty.

This is nonsense! The Church has told you to celebrate on this day, the same as she told you to fast and abstain during Lent. Let's remember: all these things, whether fasting or feasting, are designed to draw us closer to God. To borrow a phrase: let's not try to be more Catholic than the Pope.

So why celebrate St. Joseph as the Husband of Mary? St. Joseph is an awesome saint. Despite the circumstances, he obeyed and believed the Holy Spirit when He told Joseph to take Mary as his wife, despite her unexplained pregnancy. Not much is known about Joseph, except that he was a carpenter, of the royal line of David, and Scripture describes him as a "righteous man".

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, 7 but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, 8 yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord 9 appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, 10 because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
11 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, 12 and he named him Jesus. (Matt 1:19-25)

If this were a screenplay, Joseph might have a grievance: he doesn't even have any lines in Scripture! (Must be the strong, silent type.) But he does what is asked of him and provided a home and protection for Mary and Jesus.

Joseph is a model and an inspiration - much more could be said; however, may it be said of us men at the end of our lives that we, too, were righteous.

St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, ora pro nobis.


Kardinal said...

Certainly we should observe the solemnity. But the Church encourages us to observe the solemnity, it does not obligate us, and it does not encourage us to eat meat; that's your encouragement, not hers.

If anyone ate meat yesterday IN ORDER TO CELEBRATE the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, all the better for them. I actually did as well. But that is certainly not the only, nor even the preferred, way to celebrate the Solemnity.

Nod said...

I said it was our priest's encouragement to please eat meat, not the Church's. The Church said to celebrate.

The point was to not purposefully fast, not that you had to eat meat.

I know I did in celebration. With gusto!

Nod said...

mherzog, trolls are not appreciated and will be deleted.


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