Catholic Culture: Ash Wednesday Trumps Valentines Day

Liturgical year 2018 is gunna be weird! Ash Wednesday is on February 14th and Easter is on April Fools. I sadly had to tell my 7th grade catechists this past week that Ash Wednesday totally trumps Valentines Day. They were in shock and a little upset; no Valentines Day candy!? Nope. Well why can’t they move Lent to start on Thursday!?…cuz religion doesn’t work that way hunnies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Read more:ย Valentineโ€™s Day the Art History Way

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My husband and I are not a big Valentines Day couple anyways. So all in all it’s not that big of a deal for us this year but this does bring up some questions about religious observance: how far do we want to go?

Now, we are not daily Mass goers (or even daily prayers! oops) but, in an effort to incorporate more liturgical living into our lives, this 2018 calendar has got me thinking about our “line” when it comes to our Catholic practices. Religious observance is ย easy when it is culturally accepted or mainstream, like having the day off on Christmas, but that much harder when it makes you stand out, like ashes on our foreheads or veiling to Mass.

Read more from the blog Catholic All Year, Ash Wednesday vs Valentine’s Day: The February 14th Catholic Conundrum

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Although, religiously speaking America is majority Christian, it’s not majority Catholic and sometimes our Catholic-ness can get uncomfortable when people don’t understand why I “can’t eat meat” on Fridays or why I’m hungry at lunch on Ash Wednesday. It’s hard to explain to people who are either not religious or mainstream Protestant that these extra “silly” things aren’t guaranteeing me a place in heaven nor is anyone forcing me to follow the Church rules. We do it to get closer to G-d, we do it to remind us of our devotion, but sometimes we do it because it makes things uncomfortable.

Read more: Catholic Culture: Traveling during Lent

Being uncomfortable is a good thing. It can help strengthen you and help to flesh out your personal “why.” I know that when I get asked those questions, it makes me truly think about why I do something. Sometimes I have no reason and say “Church tradition” but then you better believe I research why the Church even made it tradition. That little Googling session allows me to walk about more comfortably with my “why” and help instruct others about my faith. The Church, I have found over the years, is not random, misogynistic, and cruel; the Church always has her reasons and they are usually beautifully developed, intricate, and pure.

So, this Lent what will be your line? How much observance feels natural yet challenging to you and your family? Will you be uncomfortable and will that push you closer to G-d? Or will you settle to blend in?

JMF


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