Whitman: When Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day, it’s introspection over indulgences

FILE â\u0080\u009A\u0088\u009A¢â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0082¬ \u0308â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009D Cardinal Timothy Dolan celebrates Mass at St. Patrickâ\u0080\u009A\u0088\u009A¢â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0082¬ \u0308â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0084¢s Cathedral in New York on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. In 2018, for the first time in 73 years, Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day, posing culinary challenges for Christians who observe Lent. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)  XNYT113
FILE â\u0080\u009A\u0088\u009A¢â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0082¬ \u0308â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009D Cardinal Timothy Dolan celebrates Mass at St. Patrickâ\u0080\u009A\u0088\u009A¢â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0082¬ \u0308â\u0080\u009A\u0080\u009A\u0084¢s Cathedral in New York on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. In 2018, for the first time in 73 years, Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day, posing culinary challenges for Christians who observe Lent. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times) XNYT113
Published February 13 2018
Updated February 16 2018

Not everyone indulged this Valentine’s Day.

Feb. 14 also marked Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lenten season, a time of sacrifice within the Christian faith. It was the first time in 73 years the two days coincided.

Each year Christians, most predominantly Catholics, abstain from something for the 40-plus days and nights leading up to Easter, an effort symbolizing Jesus’ time fasting in the desert. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops web site, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are expected to abstain and fast by limiting themselves to one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. They also should abstain from eating meat on Fridays.

The New York Times reported that Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, made clear which commemoration matters most.

"Ash Wednesday has precedence, and the coincidence of St. Valentine’s Day would not lift for us the duty of fasting and self-denial," Dolan wrote in a blog post on Monday.

"St. Valentine willingly bows to this Sacred Heart, for which even he lovingly gave his life 18 centuries ago."

Modern-day Lent participants also ‘give up’ a list of conveniences ranging from chocolates to smartphones. Some alternatively take on a new commitment, such as daily exercise. Others attempt to undo bad habits.

Foregoing such personal comforts to pray and reflect is said to prepare believers for the resurrection celebration.

Last year, I ‘gave up’ complaining. I caught myself venting a few times but the conscious effort to stop made me a more positive person. My husband happily kept me accountable. ‘Isn’t that complaining,’ he reminded me whenever I re-boarded the negativity train.

This year, I wanted to sacrifice something I consider routine. So, I am temporarily abandoning my work-at-home-mom uniform, a.ka., weekday leggings. You might laugh. But I spend my days chasing a toddler. I wear stretchy pants pretty much 24/7. Leggings are my literal (100 percent cotton) comfort zone.

Yes readers, I admit it. Forcing myself into actual pants will prove a challenge. Every morning, as I bother with buttons and zippers, I will indeed think about Jesus. I don’t know what that says about me. But I can reflect on it until Easter.

Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]

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