How to keep the “Lent” in Valentine’s Day

Have you looked at your calendar lately? Have you noticed that, in 2024, the most dark and difficult annual day of self-examination and penitence falls, by some terrible misfortune, on the same exact same day as Ash Wednesday?

I speak, of course, of that darkest, most difficult, most penitential of days, Valentine’s Day.

Ho ho! I joke. I like Valentine’s Day. It is fine. I, like most Americans, act normal about this holiday, and do not get weird about it. We definitely aren’t mad or upset because our annual Whitman’s sampler, dyed flower and Temu lingerie fest is being threatened by Actual Spoilsport, God. American Catholics would never! We know better, and we always act normal!

I joke again. In fact, there is a flurry of consternation about how we are supposed to celebrate Valentine’s Day without letting it overshadow the beginning of Lent.

The answer is, of course, you can’t, silly. Ash Wednesday is way more important than Valentine’s Day, so it gets first dibs on your time. If Valentine’s Day is important to you or to the person you love, there’s nothing wrong with that! You just move it, and celebrate it some other day. This is just what it’s like being an adult: Sometimes things just don’t work out, and you have to be flexible.

But that doesn’t mean some people aren’t going to get a little too flexible. Call it the New Evangelization or call it an obsession, but I can’t stop thinking about something that happened a few weeks ago at Mass…

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5 thoughts on “How to keep the “Lent” in Valentine’s Day”

  1. My husband said he could give me flowers, but I’d have to burn them.

    Joke! We both had a good laugh.

    This is the same man who, when I was in the hospital after having a 5-inch tumor removed, brought me flowers with a little card that said “It’s a Boy!” with the “Boy!” marked out and “Tumor!” written in. Only that time I couldn’t laugh too hard because of abdominal incisions.

  2. As for Valentine’s Day,

    in the reformed rite the Saint’s feast has been degraded to a mentioning in the Martyrology anyway, but for most of the time his feast actually was celebrated – excepting the last decade or so -, it had First Vespers (because February 13 is a feria). Problem solved.

    Mardi Gras evening is not just transferred Valentine’s Day, it *is* Valentine’s Day.

    But of course, you *can* also do the Catholic combination thing if you like. Give each other flowers as a couple, visit Holy Mass – usually in the evening – as a couple, get your cross as a couple, have a festive fish-dinner as a couple (starters, fish, dessert, all pescetarian but not any further courses, and all in under 2 hours). Should work fine. Just make sure both don’t have a real meal anytime else in the day.

  3. The thing is, if what is wrong with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is the text, you change the text and you’re fine. The Royal&Catholic Army did the very thing to the Marseillaise, didn’t they?

    “Quoi? des infâmes héretiques
    feraient la loi dans nos foyers?
    Quoi? des muscardins de boutiques
    Nous écraseraient sous leurs pieds!
    … Aux armes, vendéens!”

    And they were quite right: the Marseillaise is too great a melody to just leave o the enemy.

    Something, honor where honor is due, that might be said to also be true about Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

    We do need to make everything Catholic.

  4. Is this a real thing? Are there truly Catholic couples worried about Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday being one and the same? Wait til they have kids! I don’t think it’s unique to us that the food aspect of birthday, anniversary, and Valentines Day celebrations get moved for convenience sake all the time.

    In recent years, my husband and I have celebrated Valentines Day by going to Chilis without any kids. I don’t remember the last time we actually went to Chili’s on a Feb 14, (if we ever even have) but I’m one hundred percent positive if we did it would have fallen on a weekend. And only then if the wait wasn’t too long. Because then we’d have gone on the 13th or 15th. 😉

  5. Celebrate Valentine’s Day on preceding weekend and avoid the crowds on Mardi Gras and 14th of February.
    At least that’s what I’ll do with my wife.

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