The Diocese has received questions as to whether Catholics must abstain from eating meat on Friday, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, or whether a dispensation is needed. Church law has stated the following requirements for abstinence and fasting:
"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. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.”
Fasting (eating only one full meal and two small meals that do not equal another full meal) is required for individuals between 18 years old and 59 years old. Fasting is only required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Abstinence is required for all individuals over 14 years old on all Fridays, but outside of the Season of Lent a different penance can be substituted in place of abstinence from eating meat. Abstinence from meat is required on all Fridays during Lent, as well as on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Neither fasting nor abstinence are required for anyone who cannot do them because of health issues.
This year, the Feast of St. Joseph falls on Friday, March 19th. Therefore, because the Feast of St. Joseph is a solemnity, there is no requirement to abstain from eating meat on Friday, March 19th. No additional dispensation is necessary, as the Church law itself makes the exception.