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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  • Passing By

    And for me, Easter means reading blogs again. :-)

    The summary should have noted that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence; the other Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence (no meat).

  • Richard Mounts


    Passing By gets it right. I say PB gets a gold star. :-)

    As for the AP looking for a conflicted Catholic to quote, of course they had to pick the scientist, college elite, (therfore liberal to Fox TV viewers?), who made sarcastic (if not blaphemous) remarks about acts of devotion. And then Dr. Coenen says he’ll go to mass, rather than confession, for forgivness–that will confuse many readers, Catholic and not.

    I can’t imagine that the reporter found a better way to give the Church a black eye that day. But isn’t that Rule 3 in the style book for MSM reporters writing about Catholics: “Make sure you find a way to make ‘em look really surely bad, not just merely nearly bad.” (With apologies to Mr. Baum) Maybe I’m being overly touchy? Where’s a deacon when I need one?

  • Jerry

    And for me, Easter means reading blogs again.

    I sometimes think that paying attention to what the media reports is penance for one’s sins because all too a dose of the news is like wearing a hair shirt.

  • Passing By

    Jerry – one of my problems was getting my news too much from the blogs, so I took a stretch of reading straight from the news sources. of course, Sundays are not days of penance. :-)

  • Suzanne

    I would have liked to see more discussion of the fasting aspect. Tailgate parties are not notoriously skimpy on the food.

  • sari

    The reporter could have asked why were they at the game all. Fasting seems to be a small piece of failing to acknowledge the sanctity and import of the day.

    As for the AP looking for a conflicted Catholic to quote, of course they had to pick the scientist, college elite, (therfore liberal to Fox TV viewers?), who made sarcastic (if not blaphemous) remarks about acts of devotion.

    State biologists usually work for entities like Dept.of Fish and Wildlife, the Park or Forestry services in positions which may or may not require a doctorate. In this case, a search for David Coenan Wausau brought up the head of the Science department at Wausau East High School and the school’s softball coach. Nowhere in the article is he referred to as Dr. Coenen.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    sari, AP style is to only refer to medical doctors with Dr.