Episcopal Church brings ashes-to-go to Mid-Hudson

Danny Woods
February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day may be named after a saint, but this clash on the calendar poses a problem for many Christians who abstain from eating meat during Lent.

"It would be foolish for a Catholic to put the "sweetness" of Valentine's Day above Ash Wednesday", he said. Catholics around the country are being advised to celebrate Valentine's Day some other time.

The two would seem to be on opposite sides of the emotional fence, with Ash Wednesday being the first day of Lent, the almost six-week period before Easter, when Christians cleanse themselves through prayer and abstinence. Along with fasting from food, he says it can include fasting from personal habits such as being judgmental or racist.

Rev. Chuck Kramer, rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park, said that offering ashes-to-go previous year provided "some good conversations about why we have ashes, what Lent is, and who Jesus is". For the first time since 1945, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, falls on Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day, on the other hand, is the day when giving chocolates, as well as flowers or cards, to a loved one is a traditional sign of love.

Yet some leaders are saying the pairing need not be so awkward. "It's one of only two days in the church's year that we're asked to fast".

Fasting starts on Ash Wednesday and is the reason why we have Shrove Tuesday the day before. That reminds her of human love and how she talks about forgiveness whenever she does premarital counseling.

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Interestingly, if you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, you will actually count 46 days. Our prayer is that the fruit of the season will continue to germinate and bear more fruits in our daily lives, " he said.

"There's never a bad time to celebrate your love for someone", she said. The tradition points back to when Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days, as written in the book of Matthew in the Holy Bible.

The fasting requirement still allows Catholics one full meal on Ash Wednesday and two small meals that do not equal a full meal.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of NY, wrote online that both days are about "the heart".

During Lent, Western Christians begin preparing - through penance, reflection and fasting - for the coming of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Whatever you decide to do, it will be good practice for the future: Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day will share the same date again in 2024 and 2029, the CARA blog said.

"Valentine's Day is all about love, and the beginning of Lent also is about God expressing his sacrificial love for us", May said. "As weird as it feels, it is very appropriate for Ash Wednesday to fall on Valentine's Day".

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