On Wednesday, devout Catholics will be faced with a difficult choice. Do they commit to the commencement of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a day set aside for fasting, self-reflection, and sacrifice? Or do they celebrate St. Valentine’s Day and dine on wine, chocolate, and decadent meats with their SO? Tough choice.
The New York Times reports that this is the first time the holidays have aligned since 1945, and singles may think they have it bad, but consider how it feels to be Catholic, partnered, and lectured to forgo special treats when you already have a reservation at Peter Luger’s Steak House. You’d think there might be some leniency and understanding from the pulpit, but you’d be wrong.
Sermons and blog posts from Catholic priests on restraining yourself in the candy aisle of CVS abound. One example comes from Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, who the NYT describes as having a reputation as the “most jovial of American bishops.” (Guess they didn’t talk to him when he was covering up sex crimes.)
“Ash Wednesday has precedence, and the coincidence of St. Valentine’s Day would not lift for us the duty of fasting and self-denial,” he wrote in a blog post on Monday.
“St. Valentine willingly bows to this Sacred Heart, for which even he lovingly gave his life 18 centuries ago,” Cardinal Dolan wrote, in a reference to the martyrdom of St. Valentine in the third century.
Dolan told reporters, ““Why don’t we do an act of charity for somebody else? Why don’t we do an act of penance for one another as a sign of our love?”
Nothing sounds more romantic and hot than “penance.” One way around it is that fasting for Catholics means eating one large meal and two smaller ones that add up to less than usual. Sort of like the Slimfast diet. So, eat a Nutribar for breakfast and lunch, dine out at dinner. And there’s no rule against roses until Palm Sunday.