January 11, 2018

Should I celebrate Valentine’s Day or Ash Wednesday: Okay, for me, a priest, that is an easy one! It would have been easy for me as a single guy, too (hard to believe that I normally spent Valentine’s Day alone). Hopefully, for you this isn’t a difficult choice either and not because you have no one to spend the day with. Many dioceses across our country have been putting out statements about this overlap. I like what Bishop Gainer of Harrisburg said: “As Catholics, we recognize Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of a period of prayer, penance, and works of charity. Its spiritual importance is evidenced by the large number of faithful choosing to attend Mass on this day. In view of the significance of Ash Wednesday, the obligations of fast and abstinence are naturally the priority in the Catholic community. Valentine’s Day can appropriately be celebrated on another day, such as Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which happens to be Mardi Gras, a time of celebration prior to the Lenten journey.” Bishop Baker of Birmingham adds that “those who wish to celebrate Valentine’s Day may fittingly do so the day before (Mardi Gras) or on another non-penitential day. The good Lord, who suffered so much out of love for us, will surely reward our fidelity and sacrifice!” May we all prioritize the Lord and our 40-day Lenten journey over secular celebrations. May you have a blessed Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season.

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