This year, the Solemnity of St. Joseph (March 19) falls on a Friday in Lent. A number of people have asked about whether a dispensation could be given for the usual day of abstinence that would occur on a Friday in Lent. In many cultures and traditions, this wonderful feast day of St. Joseph is marked by a great sense of celebration, as well as special acts of charity and love toward those in need. What is more, such celebrations have added weight this year, as we continue our journey through “the Year of St. Joseph.”

In fact, when a solemnity occurs on a Friday during Lent, the usual abstinence is lifted (cf. the Code of Canon Law, canon 1251). Nonetheless, and to be clear, I give permission for the usual abstinence to be dispensed with for Friday, March 19. That being noted, we know of St. Joseph as a good and righteous man, and so, instead of abstaining from meat on March 19 this year, we could focus on an extra effort in prayer, and/or of some particular act of charity, and/or some suitable act of penance. These acts would be a wonderful way to celebrate the solemnity!

-Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger