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Meatful Fridays?

Lent has begun, and for Catholics this means about six weeks of meatless Fridays. But this year, USG has written to the Chancellor, Msgr. Greg Mustaciuolo, asking for a special dispensation for the attendants of Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s annual Winter Ball, being held this evening.

The idea of Lenten dispensations is not completely unheard of. Traditionally, the Archdiocese of New York grants a dispensation from the abstinence of meat when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent, because celebrations for this day usually involve corned beef. But is poor planning for the Winter Ball (winter has been happening for a while now, and they chose the first weekend in Lent?) really a good reason for a dispensation from the obligatory abstinence? After all, St. Patrick is the patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York, so it is understandable that the diocese would be especially sympathetic towards desires to celebrate his feast day in the most traditional fashion. Furthermore, this dispensation is given to the entire archdiocese, not just a bunch of college students.

While I understand the desire to have the best time possible at this once a year event, it seems a little presumptuous of USG to think that they are somehow deserving of a special dispensation from the Archbishop. Lent is not a season for random celebrations. Certainly the Church doesn’t venture to say that Lent renders certain happy occasions (like birthdays) joyless, but it does sort of expect that the faithful will put a limit on frivolous partying. The fact is, this was poorly planned, but what’s done is done. What I want to know is, what exactly is wrong with a little seafood?

-Helen Lee

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