Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The season of Lent is one of penitential preparation of gratitude for the salvation from sins, won for us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In order that we might not have to die, he willingly died for us, and to set us free, he willing accepted the bondage of the cross.
As we prepare, therefore, for that most joyful celebration of Easter, the day of our salvation, we willingly accept the small and necessary crosses of Lenten discipline. In order that we might die and rise with our crucified and risen Lord, we must practice a gentle and salutary mortification in this life. Among these penances that the church in her wisdom requires is that we abstain from all meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.
When, however, as sometimes happens, a significant liturgical celebration might fall on a Lenten Friday, the authority of the bishop’s office may be used to modify the discipline of abstinence from meat on Fridays.
This year, the traditionally-festive celebration of our holy father in faith, St. Patrick, bishop, the apostle and patron of Ireland, and patron of several parishes here in the Diocese of Sioux City, falls on Friday, March 17.
Since I, too, can claim to be at least part Irish on my mother’s side, in honor of this great saint, I do hereby commute the obligation of abstaining from meat on that day.
Those who, in their celebration of the life and missionary zeal of St. Patrick, still choose to observe the abstinence of this day (such as, for example, by attending one of the many parish fish dinners throughout the diocese), are commended for their exemplary commitment.
Those who choose to eat meat to celebrate St. Patrick do neither wrong nor harm thereby, provided that they observe the discipline of abstinence from meat on another day of the same week.
All are encouraged, moreover, to pray especially on that Friday for the intercession of St. Patrick for peace, faith, all the pastoral needs of our diocese, and the salvation of souls.
May the observation of this and every form of Lenten sacrifice and discipline bring you grace and renewed union with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City