Saturday, March 11, 2017 - Updated: 6:21 AM
March 8, 2017
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
As you and I enter into the season of Lent we seek to live disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in a spirit of penitence and to form our hearts to be ever more like the heart of God. Forming these good habits in our lives helps to free us from the distractions that keep us from God and open our hearts to share God’s love in more profound ways.
Lent is not a season of sorrow, but a time of anticipation. During Lent we journey with Jesus to Calvary as we await the expectation of eternal life which we will celebrate at Easter. We acknowledge that suffering with Christ is an essential part of this journey, yet we are only strengthened in our encouragement to walk with the Lord.
While celebrations do not cease in Lent, they are certainly tempered by the penitential context of the season. Many people have been asking if I will allow Catholics to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day since March 17 falls on a Friday of Lent this year. After much consideration I have chosen to dispense Catholics in the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the obligation to abstain from meat on Friday, March 17. However, I do appeal to those who choose to eat meat that day to do another act of self-sacrifice in the spirit of the season of Lent with the mind and the heart of St. Patrick.
The Irish community in Pittsburgh works very hard each year to honor the patron saint of Ireland. The Ancient Order of Hibernians sponsors a Communion breakfast to celebrate St. Patrick, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off an entire week of celebration. I also encourage Catholics to ensure that the manner in which they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day truly honors this good and humble saint.
Please be assured of my prayers for a fruitful Lent as we anticipate the new life of the resurrection at Easter. Please pray for me.
Looking forward to our efforts together in being On Mission for The Church Alive!, and grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I am
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh