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…