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Two churches offering Ashes to Go on Feb. 14

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New York City 2001. Credit Greg Miller

"Our evening Ash Wednesday worship is usually lightly attended, but past year we had about 10 first time visitors who came because they had heard of Glitter+Ash".

Valentine's Day was a Saint who was martyred for arranging marriages for the people who were not allowed to marry under the rule of Roman Empire which persecuted Christians.

BUFFALO, NY For the first time in 73 years, February 14 is both Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday. a day that's supposed to mean fasting for Catholics. "Let us fill Valentine's Day with the Lenten spirit", said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas in a Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post. "It's a time of fasting and prayer to re-commit to our baptismal promises".

"What matters is our spirit and what's inside of us", said Father Girotti.

February 14 this year is also Ash Wednesday, the day following the more widely known celebration of Mardi Gras. Since then many Episcopal churches across the country have joined in to offer Ashes to Go, particularly at key commuter lines. It is a time of preparation for the celebration and remembrance of Jesus Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday wasn't officially accepted into the Catholic Church or its belief system until around 325 AD.

Christian denominations call on their members to make various sacrifices during the 40-day Lenten season that leads up to Easter Sunday, including fasting from food, reflecting and carrying out extra acts of charity.

The irony of excess and self-denial seem to collide on Ash Wednesday. Priest marks the forehead of the churchgoers with ash in the shape of a cross as he says "Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return".

The Rev. Mari Larson, senior pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, said if you look at the "core" of Valentine's Day, it meshes well with Ash Wednesday.

During Lent, many people decide to give something up that they love - perhaps chocolate or biscuits.

For the second consecutive year, archdiocesan leaders are encouraging Catholics to go without their cellphones on Fridays this Lent.

Today, Deacon plans to enjoy a fish fry at home with her fiancée, Jess Schneider, who grew up Catholic.

"We have to reflect on life and think deeply about our relationship with Jesus, where we've been, and where we're going", said Father John Girotti of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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