Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year, here’s what Catholic leaders say you should do

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While it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation to attend mass, the Catholic Church still requires Catholics to follow specific rules on Ash Wednesday. Unlike last year when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday during Lent and had those rules lifted, the rules on Wednesday will stay in place.

Ash Wednesday kicks off an important period for the Catholic Church known as Lent.

“The season of lent, we embrace the traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,” said Bishop Larry Kulick of the Greensburg Diocese.

Starting on Ash Wednesday and continuing every Friday until Easter, Catholics are required to fast and abstain from eating meat. It’s why fish fries are a popular staple this time of year.

This year – Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s Day fall on the same day.

In a video he plans to post to social media next week, Bishop Kulick acknowledges the combined holidays.

“Many people have been asking, Bishop, because St. Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday this year, is it possible for you to dispense us from the obligation of abstaining and fasting on this day?”

The short answer to that question, Kulick said, is no. Catholics Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek spoke to in Greensburg agree.

“I think it’s fitting to still retain the Ash Wednesday abstinence and fasting and view that St. Valentine was a martyr,” said Francis Delaney. “While it’s a joyful day also, it’s also the day of a martyr’s great sacrifice.”

While many couples may have dinner plans – both Bishop Kulick and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh encourage making some changes, whether those are changes of when you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or how.

“I think the sensible solution would be to commit to your Catholic faith and celebrate Ash Wednesday because it is a significant part of the Catholic community, and try to celebrate either Valentine’s Day that weekend or take your partner out the weekend before, the day before or after. There should be no problem,” said Becca Kopcie.

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