Catholics everywhere are talking about it.
"Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day are on the same day this year. What do we DO?"
No worries. The answer is actually pretty simple. We just haven't had to worry about this since 1945, and the coinciding of Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day won't happen again until 2024.
In the meantime, here's a lighthearted (but earnest) guide on how to celebrate like a Catholic this February 14th.
1. Go to Mass and receive your ashes.
Most of us work during the day, but there are early Masses, commuter’s Masses (usually around noon), and evening Masses. No excuses! Parishes make things flexible for us. Mass is a beautiful and romantic thing: we show Jesus our love, and He does much more for us by giving Himself to us totally, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! The Eucharist is an unbelievably holy and intimate gift that we should not take for granted.
2. Remember to fast.
Fasting is mandatory on Ash Wednesday for Catholics ages 18 to 59. As the USCCB explains, “When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.” You can still take your loved one on a date. Just pick a seafood dinner, and make sure it’s your only full meal of the day. Don’t forget to put on your little black ash.
3. Hold on to that candy.
Did someone give you Valentine’s day candy or chocolate? No problem! Why not eat it a day early, on Fat Tuesday, or depending on what you’re giving up for Lent, why not save it for Sunday? Sundays during Lent are not fasting days. Don’t you just love that?
4. Say "I love you."
Tell your spouse, children, family, and friends that you love them. What better day to remember the blessings we have in them but on Ash Wednesday? I mean, St. Valentine’s Day? I mean...both?
5. Give a
Ash Wednesday Valentine's Day card.
We can’t eat sweets, but you should still give Ash Wednesday cards! I mean, St. Valentine’s Day cards! Maybe take the time to write a note to someone who is lonely. Consider an elderly neighbor whose spouse has passed away, or an out-of-state friend that hasn’t heard from you in a while. Why not continue a similar practice throughout Lent? Reach out to folks, even if takes a little effort. A phone call, a text, a note by good old snail mail.
6. Learn about the REAL St. Valentine.
Take some time to learn about St. Valentine and other patron saints of marriage. I recommend starting with this article: Heroes and Homemakers: 10 Patron Saints of Marriage
7. Tell Jesus that you love Him.
Last but not least—in fact it should be first in your mind and heart—tell Our Lord that you love Him, and that you dedicate this Lent to learning how to love Him more. Visit Him where He quietly waits for you in the tabernacle at your parish. I promise you: there isn’t a better valentine than Our Lord.