Shirley, a reader of the About.com GuideSite to Catholicism, has asked an interesting question on question form:
Since St. Joseph's Day falls on a Friday, am I allowed to eat meat?
Saint Joseph's Day is no ordinary feast. It is a solemnity, which is the highest ranking of any feast in the Catholic liturgical calendar. (Other solemnities include Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, Trinity Sunday, the Feasts of Saint John the Baptist and Saints Peter and Paul, as well as feasts of our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
In essence, a solemnity is as important as a Sunday, and, as we know, Sundays are never days of fasting and abstinence. That is why the Code of Canon Law (Can. 1251) declares:
Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday [emphasis mine].
There are two solemnities that can fall during Lent: Saint Joseph's Day and the Annunciation of the Lord. Whenever one of these solemnities falls on a Friday, the faithful are dispensed from the requirement to abstain from meat.
Just like on the Sundays in Lent, however, that doesn't necessarily mean that we should go out of our way to enjoy a big, juicy steak. We might instead celebrate the feast with a traditional Italian meal for Saint Joseph's Day, such as Saint Joseph's Pasta or Legume Soup for Saint Joseph's, both of which are meatless because, traditionally, Catholics abstained from meat on every day of Lent. And for dessert, try some Zeppole di San Giuseppe—Saint Joseph's Fritters. Kyle Phillips, the About.com Guide to Italian Food, has two wonderful recipes, one from Sicily, and the other from Naples.
But if you find yourself in circumstances in which you're served meat on Friday, March 19, 2010, or even if you just feel like having that big, juicy steak, go ahead and dig in. Saint Joseph's got your back.