Ashes trump hearts for faith­ful this Feb. 14

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local News - By Pe­ter Smith Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

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.

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