You may remember I was scratching my head a few weeks ago over the cataclysmic “Corned beef on St. Patty’s Day vs. meat abstention on Lenten Fridays” dilemma (see here), but I’m still not quite ready to let go of that tail.
Last night I was checking a few websites and I noticed the local Rochester NY Catholic bishop, Salvatore Matano, issued a letter (see here) saying he is granting a dispensation to all Catholics living in his diocese allowing them to eat corned beef, bangers, or any other meat on St. Patty’s Day, Friday, March 17th without committing a mortal sin. However, Matano also states in the letter that he “encourages” Catholics to “observe the abstinence from meat on another day during that week.” So what I want to know is if a Catholic fails to abstain from meat on another day, do they commit mortal sin? I don’t think so because Matano only “encourages” them to abstain, he doesn’t order them. But someone needs to phone the diocesan office just to verify.
Also last night, as I was scanning the internet news I noticed the story far below about the Catholic archbishop of Denver, Colorado, Samuel Aguila, who has ruled that Catholics in his diocese must abstain from meat on St. Patty’s Day. What? I had assumed all of the U.S. Catholic bishops would be on board with the dispensation. There must not be a lot of Irish living in Denver?
Since it now appears that some bishops are granting dispensations and others aren’t, there are some vital questions that we need answers to:
1) Let’s take a hypothetical situation. Suppose a Catholic is traveling by train from Utah through Colorado to Kansas on St. Patty’s Day. He buys a corned beef and cole slaw sandwich in Utah for the trip because the bishop there has granted a dispensation. As the train speeds through the Denver area, the Catholic pulls out the corned beef sandwich and begins to consume it. Unfortunately, just at that moment the train’s engineer falls asleep at the controls and the train jumps off the tracks as it enters a tight curve. Many passengers are killed in the accident including our Catholic traveler. So, did the Catholic go to hell because he was eating corned beef in a non-dispensation diocese at the moment he died?
2) Or let’s suppose a conscientious Denver Catholic has a real hankering for corned beef on St. Patty’s Day and drives her car 50 miles to a restaurant in an adjoining diocese that permits corned beef so that she can eat her fill. Did she commit mortal sin because she’s still under the auspices of her Denver archbishop or did she beat the system?
Try as we might God’s Word says we can’t earn our way to Heaven. We can’t possibly obey the Ten Commandments and these man-made religious rules, like compulsory meat abstention, just add to the burden. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as their Savior by faith. Won’t you pray to Jesus an accept Him today? After you have accepted Christ as your Savior ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.