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Amanda Blair Molhan wrote:

Hi, guys —

My boyfriend and I gave up alcohol for Lent. We are getting picked on by our friends a lot about it. (We are holding strong!) However, we are being told that we can drink for St. Patrick's Day because it is a feast day.

  • Is this true?

Thank you!!


  { Can we break our Lenten penitential practice of abstaining from alcohol on St. Patrick's Day? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Amanda —

Acts of penance, almsgiving and fasting are all good Lenten sacrifices but, besides the
obligated penances and abstinence on:

  • Ash Wednesday
  • Fridays during Lent, and
  • Good Friday

the Church lets the individual choose, so it is your decision and the decision of your boyfriend.

There are certain feast days that are joyous occasions during the Lenten, penitential season.

Besides the Feast of St. Patrick on March 17th, I'm thinking of the Feast of St. Joseph which always falls during the Lenten season on March 19th.

In the past, in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cardinal has usually given a dispensation for eating meat when St. Patrick's falls on a Friday of Lent.

I'd say the choice is yours. If you can get through St. Patty's on the dry side, power to you!!

You said:
We are getting picked on by our friends a lot about it.

That tells me you picked a good sacrifice : )

Hope this helps,


Mary Ann replied:

Amanda —

There is no can and cannot, except for the mandatory Lenten fast and abstinence, which no longer applies except for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the abstinence on all Fridays of Lent. There is only a will or will not, however you choose.

It used to be that a bishop would dispense from the fast/abstinence for St. Pat's. That gives us the example that it is good to celebrate a feast, and fine to have a drink on St. Patrick's Day,
if you wish.

As a matter of fact, it could be an act of charity and humility to drink with your friends (moderately) and not to be seen to be fasting on that day. The same is true for Sundays in Lent.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Amanda —

Mike is correct. This sort of abstinence (if you are Roman Rite and I assume you are) is purely a personal choice and you can make in good conscience whatever decisions you wish about lifting it.

I will note that St. Patrick's Day is not a universal solemnity and is not traditionally a day, universally, when abstinence is lifted. In certain dioceses, typically with a high Irish population or with St. Patrick as patron (as in the case of Boston), the bishop will issue a dispensation from the canonical abstinence. If that is your situation, you can apply that to your own discipline. If you have no Irish connection — diocese or blood — I might suggest there is less of a compelling religious reason to do so. In that case one might argue it's more of a secular celebration, especially if you want to drink but it is still up to you however do not use this as an excuse to get drunk.

Don't forget the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th). That's the major solemnity within Lent.

The more your friends pick on you, the more merit you have in Heaven from following your sacrifice.


John replied:

Amanda —

Just to add to what both my colleagues have said:

Drinking for the sake of drinking, that is to catch a buzz, or even get drunk, is something Scripture strongly advises against. St. Paul tells us in several places to avoid getting drunk,
but to be sober.

That's not to say one can't have a drink or two, but, in general, the Scriptures extol the virtue of sobriety and warn against using drink to alter that sobriety.

For some, light or even moderate social drinking doesn't present a problem; for many it is problematic. It isn't the drinking itself, but what the effects of the drinking can do. It lets down one's guard and a person will do things, they wouldn't do sober; there in lies the problem.

The things which we normally wouldn't do sober, can be sinful.


Amanda replied:

Thanks guys,

I want to say thank you for everyone's responses! We will not be drinking on St. Patty's Day.

I didn't think it was Catholically legal ha, ha, but because of the number of people who told me this, I was curious what the answer was.

Thank you!

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