Friday abstinence not observed on March 19, Feast of St. Joseph

Bishop has informed pastors and administrators that the obligation to abstain from eating meat is not observed on Friday, March 19, 2010 because it is the Feast of St. Joseph, a solemnity.

Fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly encouraged and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recommends abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year. Abstinence from meat is obligatory on all the Fridays of Lent.

However, the Code of Canon Law provides an exception, stating that abstinence from eating meat on Fridays of Lent is to be observed “unless Friday occurs on a day listed as a solemnity” (c. 1251).

The Feast of St. Joseph was set on March 19 on the calendar in the fifteenth century by Pope Sixtus IV. In many Italian-American communities the custom developed to prepare a large banquet-style meal in honor of St. Joseph who is credited with preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. Keeping in mind that his intercession saved them from starvation, the custom of giving food to the needy also became a popular St. Joseph’s Day activity.

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