Easter is early this year, falling on April 1st – so if you do the math – you know that means Lent begins on Valentine’s Day.
Quite the quandary.
So what do you do?
Chocolates and champagne or ashes and fasting?
That’s the question many Christians will face on Wednesday, when Valentine’s Day and the Ash Wednesday holiday marking the start of Lent – fall on the same day for the first time since World War Two.
Heavily Irish-American Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States often make an exception when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Lenten Friday, allowing for the traditional corned beef and cabbage on a day when church members would normally be asked to avoid meat.
So what about the holiday of Love? Here’s what the Buffalo Catholic Diocese has to say. This is from Bishop Richard Malone –
“Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, which is a solemn time of prayer and penance for the Catholic Church. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days of the year on which fasting and abstinence are required. Due to the importance of Ash Wednesday in the lives of all Catholics – and even many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters – a dispensation will not be granted.
Those who are accustomed to celebrating St. Valentine’s Day might do so the day before (Mardi Gras) or on another non-penitential day. As we make this sacrifice, we should consider the immense love of Our Lord, who suffered and died for us!
It is especially important that parents help their children to understand the significance of Ash Wednesday and why it supersedes the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day in the life of a Catholic.
Be assured of my prayers for you as we embark upon this Lenten season. May it be a time of grace and mercy for each of you!”