Ash Wednesday obligations must be prioritized over Valentine's Day, says bishop

Roman Catholics ought to prioritize their obligations to fast and abstain from meat during Ash Wednesday over their Valentine's Day celebrations, according to a bishop in Rhode Island.

(REUTERS / Adrees Latif / File Photo)A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in New York, U.S., February 13, 2013.

In a column in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence's website, Bishop Thomas Tobin said the nature of Ash Wednesday was incompatible with Valentine's Day. He said the former was a solemn day of penance and prayer, while the latter was a romantic celebration involving flowers, chocolates, and expensive dinners, the Providence Journal relayed.

"Ash Wednesday belongs to God, and it shouldn't be taken away from him," said Bishop Tobin.

Catholics ages 14 and above are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday as well as on all the Fridays of Lent. Those between 18 and 59 years old are also required by Church law to fast during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

In light of these obligations, Bishop Tobin advised Catholics to celebrate Valentine's Day either ahead or some other evening.

Valentine's Day last fell on the same day as Ash Wednesday in 1945. Some people have a hard time reconciling the two special days, but others have come up with their own ways to celebrate both at the same time, CBS New York reported.

Lucy Ferrindino of Brooklyn said, "A little sacrifice never hurt anyone," and shared that she would be enjoying some lobster on Valentine's Day while opting to skip the chocolate. Tony Occhipinti of Long Island, in the meantime, said he would be spending more time contemplating on what he was going to give up this year.

There are also others like Diana Sperrazza of the East Village who implied they would be bending some rules on Feb. 14. She argued that as a saint, St. Valentine would have approved of her views.

Nina Sansifitto of Little Neck, on the other hand, was thrilled that Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day both shared the same theme --- love. She said both days celebrated love for people and Christ's love.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan suggested saying a prayer for others and being involved in charity on Feb. 14. He said an act of penance for someone else can also be a great way to show one's love.