Ash Wednesday is just a week a way! Valentine’s Day is just a week a way! WHAT TO DO?
Our long-suffering American bishops felt compelled to clarify that Ash Wednesday does, in fact, Trump Valentine’s Day, even if overpriced teddy bears are a very important part of your spirituality. So you push up V-day to Tuesday, or to the weekend before. Easy peasy, shift your squeezy.
Or, you combine them. YASS. Both/and; so Catholic. Here are a few ideas for how to combine romance and suffering, sweetness and pain.
GIFTS OF FINEST CAROB Remember carob? It looks like chocolate that’s been sitting in a dusty corner for a while, and it tastes like a chocolately dusty corner. Fasting just got that much easier! Give your significant other a satiny, heart-shaped box packed with an assortment of carob truffles, and you will be transmitting a powerful Lenten message: we must not be seduced by the passing allure of temporal things, for the sweetness of this world is but a ackkkk, blech, ptui, what is this?
QUEEN VICTORIA’S SECRET We’re required to abstain from meat, but other kinds of abstinence? Not obligatory. On the other hand, you don’t want to start your Lent too carnal-like. So try this easy trick: pick out something satiny or lacy, but at least four sizes too large. As the lucky lady opens the box, you can wiggle your eyebrows suggestively while explaining, “You really put the “gras” in Mardi Gras this year, Marty!” (This works better if your wife’s name is Marty.) I guarantee you, no sins of fleshly excess will threaten your evening. Unless you count “stabbing” as a sin of fleshly excess.
SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE FLOWERS Take a leaf from liturgical decorators around the country: go out back where the dumpsters are, pull up some dead grass, and add a few twiggy things and maybe a really scuzzy looking cattail. Stick it in a pot, preferably one that looks like grandma got into the clay again. Voila — Lent flowers! In a similar vein, if you know your wife or girlfriend was hoping for perfume, you can substitute sand, because sand is symbolic and whatnot.
HEIRLOOM JEWELRY Any unimaginative bozo can stumble into Zales and pick out a diamond this or a ruby that. What you want is something that is not only decorative, but also saturated in spiritual significance. So go ahead and rummage through the lost and found box on the radiator at the back of the church. Maybe you’ll find a nice, broken-in scapular, already “seasoned” with the holy emanations of countless fervent necks. Or maybe you’ll really luck out and find a miraculous medal that’s so well-prayed-on, it’s gone full manatee. Jackpot!
A LOVE LETTER TELLING YOUR BELOVED HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. . . about the state of his or her soul. True love doesn’t sit by and let other people wallow in sin. Consider a hand-penned, calligraphic examination of his or her conscience. Or you might assemble a “dream team” of hand-selected patron saints which you will be assigning to the cause of your beloved’s salvation (St. Drogo, St. Fiacre and, of course, St. Jude spring to mind). Or simply borrow some lyric lines from scripture. I suggest Jeremiah. There are also some really exquisite passages in Hosea.
Good luck, hot stuff. You’re gonna need it.