Ashes trump hearts for faithful this Feb. 14
When St. Patrick’s Day last year coincided with a normally meatless Friday in Lent, local Catholic bishops issued dispensations that allowed the faithful to partake in the Irish holiday meal with the traditional corned beef.
But there is no such dispensation for this year, when love meets death — that is, when Valentine’s Day shares a calendar date with Ash Wednesday.
For the first time in six decades, a holiday associated with love, tables for two and chocolate is landing on the same date as one connected with mortality, cutting back on food and, often, giving up chocolate for a while.
In 2017, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh and Bishop Edward Malesic of Greensburg joined numerous other American bishops in issuing the dispensation for St. Patrick’s Day fare, although some bishops elsewhere did not.
But neither bishop is issuing a dispensation this year, said officials from their dioceses.
It’s “because of the solemn nature of Ash Wednesday,” said the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, executive director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most solemn days of the Catholic calendar, when the faithful receive ashes to remind them of their mortality.The date begins Lent — a season of self-denial, penance, reflection and self-improvement in the weeks leading up to the commemoration of Jesus’ death on Good Fridayand resurrection on Easter.
“For those who wish to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it would seem most appropriate to do so on another day,” Bishop Zubik wrote in a letter to priests. “Oftentimes, when Valentine’s Day falls during the week, this is done out of convenience anyway.