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Secular, sacred collide as Valentine's Day falls on Ash Wednesday

14 February 2018

"Ash Wednesday on Valentine's Day highlights that God is love".

After the revelry of Carnival, comes the sober time of Lent.

Indeed, Roman Catholic bishops have urged parishioners to forego steak and chocolates for Valentine's this year, because Ash Wednesday is more important.

"It's a lovely convergence this year because the season of Lent is not really meant to be six weeks of suffering but really that reflection on that we've received God's love", says Ann Hulquist, the Senior Pastor at Denver's Augustana Lutheran Church.

Under church rules, all Catholics who are 14 and older are bound to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays in Lent and Good Friday.

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Obviously, we shouldn't limit our love for our beloved simply to Valentine's Day.

"We got some great lobster tail in for those who are cutting out the beef for a while", said Trisha Walsh, with Barn Door.

"Lent is a period to reflect and remember what the Lord has done for us, how much he suffered for our sake, even to the point of giving up His life for us", Palma said. St. Valentine's Day is not in the same real universal importance as Ash Wednesday.

The ashes represent repentance and mortality, things Catholics and other Christians reflected on during the Lenten season. No weddings and celebrations are held during the period of Lent .

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For Catholics, abstaining from meat is still a requirement.

We begin the season of Lent with the same Scripture readings each year, in which Jesus teaches about almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. They do not have to be kept for the duration of Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday services often involve blessing ashes made from burning the palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday, and spreading them on the foreheads of the faithful.

Since then many Episcopal churches across the country have joined in to offer Ashes to Go, particularly at key commuter lines.

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"Ash Wednesday, the first of forty days of prayer, penance, and charity we call Lent, leading us to Holy Week and Easter, is also about the heart: a heart called sacred, wounded by unreturned love, broken by callousness and selfishness: the heart of Jesus. Lent invites us to express our faith and our love for our neighbors in action".

Secular, sacred collide as Valentine's Day falls on Ash Wednesday