Brats go up against Good Friday on Opening Day

Many Christians will back to eating chocolate, hopping back on Facebook and, yes, eating meat with Easter upon us today.

I may not love baseball, but I know after living in Wisconsin that beer and brats and opening day are sort of holy for many people. It was nice to see the Associated Press pick up on how Good Friday was creating a tailgating quandary for Brewers fans in Milwaukee on Friday. The piece shows how fans had to choose between abstaining from meat on Good Friday or "indulge in one of Brewers' fans most cherished traditions."

When St. Patrick's Day fell on a Friday during Lent in 2006, dozens of bishops nationwide granted a special one-day dispensation that allowed Catholics to enjoy their corned beef with a clear conscience.

Not this time around. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki instead released a statement reminding Catholics of the solemnity of Good Friday.

"As much as we love the Brewers, unlike Jesus, they didn't die for your sins," he said. "With regard to beer and brats on Good Friday, let's just say that's why God created the three-game series."

So how do some Catholics handle the quandary? Some planned ahead and brought fish to the party.

Some Catholics said they didn't need any reminder. Connie Nyman, a 64-year-old Catholic school teacher from Waukesha, ate tuna fish and shrimp at her tailgate party.

"Good Friday is a sacred day. If ever someone should sacrifice in remembrance of what the Lord gave us, it's that day," she said.

Catholicism teaches that Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the other Fridays of Lent in the weeks before Easter are days when the faithful must not eat meat or meat products, and Good Friday is one of the holiest days of Christian calendar.

Opening it up to faithful readers: Does the above sentence feel like an adequate summary on meat and Lent? Other baseball fans went forth and ate meat, so that grace may abound, or something.

Others were a bit more conflicted -- if not deterred.

Dave Coenen, a state biologist from Wausau, was with a group that served bratwurst and elk sausage, as well as shrimp for those who wanted to abstain. Coenen knew he'd go for the brats, so he said the rosary on his drive to Milwaukee and brought an Easter lily for the tailgating table for good measure.

"You know, if God's going to keep me out of heaven for eating bratwurst on Opening Day, so be it," he said.

He added, however, that he planned to go to Mass on Saturday or Sunday to seek forgiveness.

Overall, I like how the piece intertwines quotes and facts about belief with some fun anecdotes. For some, it might have required some planning ahead. For others, it might have meant pushing aside church teaching. It's a reminder that religion regularly intersects with culture, with obvious reminders on religious holidays.

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