CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — It is a Valentine’s dilemma for Catholics. The romantic holiday falls on the same day as the solemn holy day, Ash Wednesday. Fortunately, getting ashes for your forehead has never been easier.
Early on a Wednesday, cars usually line up for drive through coffee, but this is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. Those are the 46 days leading up to the holiest day of the year, Easter Sunday.
“The ashes mark on our bodies the fact that we are going to die,” explained Rev. Dr. James Campbell, senior minister at The First Congregational Church in Cheshire.” As gloomy as that sounds, it’s a reminder for the way we want to live.”
This is the fourth year the First Congregational Church has offered drive through ashes on the forehead for today’s busy christian.
“And every year we’re amazed at how many people come through who might not be able to get their ashes any other way,” said associate minister Rev. Alison McCaffrey
The idea is to make sure that even people who are in a hurry can still get the mark of the cross and show their faith.
As convenient as drive through ashes are, the timing of Ash Wednesday is not so convenient for Catholics. That’s because Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day.
“For Ash Wednesday, it’s a day of both fasting and abstinence,” explained Fr. John Paul Walker, Paster of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven. “Abstinence means no meat whatsoever at any point during the day.”
Fasting means only one normal meal and two snacks all day. That means no steak dinner with that special someone. There’s no exception, even for the celebration of the catholic St. Valentine’s day.
“Saint Valentine was a great saint,” said Fr. Walker. “He was also eventually bludgeoned to death and had his head cut off, so any little sacrifices we make today are certainly not what he had to sacrifice, or chose to sacrifice for love of the lord.”
The message there: Saint Valentine got his head chopped off, so don’t complain if you have to postpone your steak dinner until tomorrow. And if you think having Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s day is a little weird, just wait until Easter. It’s on April first this year. No foolin’.