The Fourth of July is on a Friday this year. I’ve been told that there used to be a dispensation from the requirement to abstain from meat on a Friday 4th. Is that true?
It would be easy to individually keep the penance, but what if you are inviting guests over (some Catholics who don’t eat meat on Friday, some Catholics who do, plus the non-Catholics)? Should one provide meat at the barbecue in this case to accommodate everyone? If so, should we warn our non-meat-eating-on-Friday friends that there will indeed be meat served?
I have not heard of a widespread dispensation from Friday abstinence for 4 July, but there once may have been one. There was, I think, a dispensation given for the Friday after Thanksgiving, presumably for leftover turkey.
The dispensing authority is in the hands of the diocesan bishop. A parish pastor can dispense on an individual basis for a good reason, but he can’t dispense the whole parish.
Remember that the US Bishops have permitted the faithful to substitute another penance for abstinence on Fridays.
NB: Penance is still REQUIRED on Fridays, either abstinence or some other penance. One could legitimately, without a dispensation, substitute another penance on Friday, 4 July, such as an additional rosary, stations of the Cross, abstinence from some other food or drink. For many, abstaining from coffee, or salt, or dessert is more difficult than abstaining from meat.
Listening to mainstream media news coverage of politicians that day would not be penitential because, though it would be painful, the purpose of penance is to bring us closer to Christ, not froth at the mouth in anger. Ditto for reading the National Schismatic Reporter.
Regarding hosting a party…
I think when one hosts a party, one has a certain latitude to serve what one wishes. One should, of course, let one’s guests know at the time of the invitation, especially if the menu is to be outside of the norm: “Please come over to our home on Friday. We’ll be grilling some salmon!” or “I’d like to invite you over to our place this Friday for an all-mushroom extravaganza!” or “I hope you can make our stewed okra fiesta this Friday evening!” “We slaughtered Petey, the family hog, and will be roasting him this Friday. If you’d like to bring a side dish to pass around, come on over!”
Reasonable accommodations should of course be made, especially if one knows one’s guests well enough to know their dietary restrictions. Hosts should also be nonplussed if guests (especially those with pickier appetites) ask questions: “I’d like to bring along some wine. What’s on the menu so I can bring something appropriate?” or “I’d love to come. I hate to put you out, but I have a severe allergy to quail tongues.”
One need not justify one’s serving choices to one’s guests. If one’s fellow parishioners want to presume the worst and gossip (“Maureen’s serving sliced bread on the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist? I knew she had no respect for our ancient traditions!”) that’s on their heads.