You see, I was travelling. It is my memory that travellers were dispensed from abstinence, but in their restoration of Friday abstinence, our bishops did not grant dispensations (at least explicitly) or specify when these might apply. I think that in the old days a parish priest might dispense his parishioners for a good reason, and in certain cases (such as when travelling) the dispensation was automatic. I should have liked to see a dispensation for dining when others (who are not Catholics) have cooked and when one does not wish to cause an awkwardness. In fact our bishops explicitly directed that in such cases we were to explain to our friends that we were not permitted to eat their food, but to explain to them charitably a concept that few Catholics understand these days. It would appear to amount to:
'well, no, it isn't about doing penance, because we left all that behind us forty years ago. It is actually about us feeling good about being Catholics and being different, and this being a good witness to you about Living Simply'.
So you get to inconvenience, annoy, exclude and patronise your hosts all at one time. Fun.
Like old Boney, I thought about it being the real feast of the Epiphany, and about travelling, and so at the airport I hovered over a chicken salad sandwich before good old Catholic Guilt won out and I took the egg mayonnaise.
On arrival in my uncle's house, he was already laying a chicken casserole on the table as I came through the front door. I ate it with him. Now, we are in Ireland, and the law of abstinence doesn't apply here. But I still felt guilty, and wondered whether I should be inconveniencing, annoying and patronising him to do my religious duty.
Last night we went to the only Sunday Mass in the parish -- strangely late on Saturday night, and it was carefully explained that as we had celebrated Epiphany last Friday, the Mass would be that of the Baptism of the Lord. So even had the abstinence laws applied in Ireland, my uncle was right to serve meat, and I had felt guilty for nothing ( even though I know that I had no need to anyway).
As for the new translation in Ireland; well the stories you hear about it being a disaster area are not correct. My uncle tells me the there was some grumbling from some of the priests (during Mass of course), but that the laity just got on with it. That was my experience, too. Everyone said the prayers at their own pace as usual, the speed ranging from very fast to lightning, and all but one of the people near me were using the new text without leaflets except for the Gloria and Creed. Only one person kept up the old responses, but as she was going faster than any others around her that was perhaps to be expected. The celebrant didn't stumble or grumble once (though he ad libbed from time to time), and he encouraged the correct people's responses by saying them loudly into the microphone faster than anyone else. Only at one point did all the congregation pray all in solemn unison instead of the usual in-your-own-time,-folks style, and that was the Pater Noster, said in Irish. I really am going to have to learn that.
I asked about the lapsation in light of the recent troubles of the Church, and here in the wild and wooly parts of County Clare it doesn't seem to be a problem; Mass attendance is still about 90-95%, and even draws in the increasing number of (non-Catholic) immigrants from England, Germany and elsewhere, who have discovered for themselves what an important part of social cohesion the Church is here. Well, it's nice to hear some good stuff, isn't it?
They hadn't heard about the new Nuncio, but were highly amused to hear that he he is called Charlie Brown. No doubt he will be presented with a dog soon.