Oy vey! Yet ANOTHER liturgical calendrical dilemma for Catholics!

Catholics had a bit of a quandary on their hands last month with Christmas, a Holy Day of Obligation (HDO), falling on a Monday. Catholics were required to attend regular obligatory Sunday mass on December 24th as well as mass the next day, Monday, December 25th, Christmas day. Failure to attend mass on both days was purported to be a mortal sin that doomed the Catholic to Hell for eternity unless they confessed it to a priest. I wonder what percentage of Catholics actually complied?

Well, leave it to me, but I was scanning the news the other night and I see that Catholics have another difficult situation approaching. The article below says Ash Wednesday falls on the same day this year as Valentine’s Day – February 14th.

What’s the problem with that? Glad you asked, as my former pastor used to say.

For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is the first day of their 40-day penitential Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is NOT an HDO, so Catholics DO NOT have to attend mass that day, although they are strongly encouraged to do so and to receive ashes made from the blessed palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday on their forehead. But on Ash Wednesday, Catholics ARE required to spend the day in “fasting and abstinence.” The church’s rule for fasting states that all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 may eat only “one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.” Break out the food scales! The church defines abstinence as refraining from consuming any meat. All Catholics, from age 14 and up, are obligated to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. See here for the rules.

If a Catholic does not fast or abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday they commit mortal sin. Catholics must also abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. On Good Friday, they are also required to spend the day in “fasting and abstinence.”

So, what’s a Catholic to do with Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day this year? The church advises its members to choose another day to romance their sweetie. The Chicago archdiocese recommends they choose Tuesday, February 13th – Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pączki Day – because that is the day Catholics traditionally whoop it up before they have to buckle down for Lent. Hmm. Even as a young Catholic I thought that “painting the town” the day immediately preceding Lent was just a “tiny bit” contradictory and hypocritical.

Can a Catholic get around this obligation by celebrating Valentine’s Day and postponing their Ash Wednesday fasting and abstinence to some other day? It doesn’t appear at this point that any of the U.S. Catholic bishops are granting dispensations for Ash Wednesday. Many of the bishops did, however, grant a dispensation last year when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Lenten Friday. Mustn’t interfere with that sacred corned beef and cabbage! So why was it OK to grant a dispensation for St. Patrick but not for St. Valentine? I don’t understand? [sarcastically feigning confusion]

Actually, NONE of the above has ANYTHING to do with the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone! It’s just another example of the Catholic church requiring everyone to march to the drumbeat of its liturgical calendar and prescribing a specific amount of time spinning inside its religious hamster wheel in order for its members to “hopefully” merit Heaven. How many Catholics will actually abide by the “fasting and abstinence” rule on Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day? Catholic sources report only 20% of its membership attend obligatory mass every Sunday and only 12% go to confession at least once a year as required, but a whopping 45% receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. People just love certain ceremonies and rituals. That’s their “religion.” They won’t attend mass every Sunday or EVER go to confession, which both doom them to Hell with no exceptions according to their church, but they do like to parade around in public with ashes on their forehead throughout the day. Interesting.

Catholic friend, rituals, ceremonies, and man-made traditions don’t save. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Ash Wednesday trumps Valentine’s, Chicago archdiocese says

Postscript: Only fourteen days until Lent. Could the infamous Chicken-in-a-Biskit post be far behind?

23 thoughts on “Oy vey! Yet ANOTHER liturgical calendrical dilemma for Catholics!

      1. “but only a small percentage of members actually attempt to toe the line.” And in the end sadly no one could live up to all the commands and extrabiblical requirements. How we need salvation by grace alone through faith alone and not by works and merits through church traditions!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Amen, Jim! When the Lord opens a works religionists eyes to their helpless sinful state and reveals through His Word His salvation by grace alone through faith alone and they can finally step out of the wheel and into His arms…words cannot describe the joy and peace!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Yes, either you’re following do, do, do according to the precepts of men or you’re following done, done, done as in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His imputed righteousness to all who accept Him by faith alone.


  1. Your critique is hilarious, irrelevant, and bizarre to any Catholic who reads it. I know literally 0 people who have any concern about this so-called “dilemma,” and I live down the street from the pope (and from St. Valentine’s tomb!), for what it’s worth. It puzzles me how you think that these kinds of things are actually that hard or complicated. Maybe it’s because you don’t try to understand but just try to tear down. I notice you don’t even make an attempt here to understand the sources and purposes of ecclesiastical positive law – which makes your whole argument an exercise in vanity. “Look at those silly Catholics! How stoopid they are!” Have you considered that you might be missing something?

    My post on your general “ethos” is almost complete. I invite you to come discuss my challenges to you when it’s published.


    1. Thanks for your interest in this post.

      RE: Your critique is hilarious, irrelevant, and bizarre to any Catholic who reads it.

      You presume far too much. I was once one of those “any” Catholics, but I was troubled by the church’s picayune legalism. Catholic sources report that 80% of U.S. Catholics don’t attend mass every Sunday as they are obligated to do and close to 90% don’t go to confession at least once a year. From those statistics “any” reasonable person could assume that a large number of Catholics also find their church’s legal laundry list objectionable.

      Thanks for dropping by.


      1. I bet a far higher percentage of children – even globally – think that eating vegetables is stupid and also think Mom and Dad’s rules for chores are toooooo haaaaaaard. The difference is that God and His Church leave us to our own free choice on these matters. Individual people objecting (even large numbers) does not mean that an obligation is A) unreasonable or B) illegitimately grounded.


      2. First you claimed “Your critique is hilarious, irrelevant, and bizarre to any Catholic who reads it,” but now you’re backtracking and saying the beliefs and practices (or lack thereof) of the Catholic masses are inconsequential. You seem to be all over the map!


      3. I am saying that breaking or ignoring rules does not mean those rules are bad or illegitimate. People rob banks – does that mean it is a bad law or an illegitimate law? No. It serves a good purpose, and it is (presumably) legislated by a legitimate authority. So I do not accept your critique.

        Catholics who do break/ignore/neglect these obligations are playing with their salvation indeed. A disobedient kid dishonors his parents – a disobedient member of the Body dishonors the whole Body and the Head.


      4. Pope Francis has opened the door to communion for remarried divorcees in defiance of the unambiguous teaching of previous “infallible” popes. Is Francis a heretic in your opinion?


      5. What you mean to say is divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior union was neither dissolved nor annulled who “live as married people live” with their new civilly recognized spouse. With law, one must be specific. This is part of the general problem right now, down the street (the Vatican) and in the blogosphere… All of a sudden, everyone’s an expert.

        He has and also has not… He has winked and nodded at a (deplorable) practice which has been going on a long time now. There has been no change in actual law, nor any change in its authentic interpretation (which is a specific process that exists precisely to avoid this kind of ambiguity). His take on the application of the relevant canons (which rest immediately on Divine law) are distinct from, albeit related to, whether or not he actually believes something “heretical” in the proper sense. Supposing he does believe something erroneous, this does not necessarily imply “heresy,” which is a very narrow term that people fling around these days. Having a bad (or even unorthodox) theological opinion does not a heretic make – although perhaps one could make the case that there is an actual heresy in operation here, though it would be difficult. However, even if someone does believe in a heresy properly so-called, that is not sufficient to make the person himself a full-blown heretic in an unqualified sense… otherwise, little 5-year-old Johnny who thinks the Trinity is three gods would be in big trouble, right? I won’t write an essay here going through all the subtleties of the Church’s doctrine on marriage, adultery, and grace and what positions on those topics could fairly be considered “heretical” in the strict sense as they relate to Amoris (etc.). I will say that I think it is very clear that he is proposing certain erroneous positions which cannot be admitted because they lead to grave sin, doctrinal confusion, and canonical anarchy. I plan to do a post in the future on the topic of popes and heresy. You might find it informative. For what it’s worth, I don’t think any pope ever has or ever will be a formal heretic, a belief which I ground in Christ’s promise to Peter (“your faith shall not fail”)… But that does not mean moral impeccability or even having wrong theological opinions which are publicly disseminated.


      6. Whew, way too much sophistry but I know conservative Catholics can’t afford to label F a heretic because it would call into question their claims regarding papal infallibility. Francis says atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience so I imagine this overwhelming majority of Catholics who ignore such things as the Ash Wednesday exactitudes figure, why bother? Read the New Testament, my friend. You cannot merit your way to salvation. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone.


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