Religion

Should Catholics celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? A Mississippi priest has the answer.

A priest in Oxford, Mississippi, used a Ryan Gosling meme to teach about the importance of Ash Wednesday -- even if it falls on Valentine’s Day.
A priest in Oxford, Mississippi, used a Ryan Gosling meme to teach about the importance of Ash Wednesday -- even if it falls on Valentine’s Day.

Father Joe Tonos of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Oxford has a trendy way of reaching his college-aged congregation.

The Greenville native has been getting inundated with questions regarding Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day aligning on Feb. 14 this year. So, like any good millennial or teen nowadays, he took to social media Tuesday to get his message across.

It all goes back to Tonos being asked “Is there permission to go out on Valentine’s Day even if it’s Ash Wednesday?”

No one needs his permission to go out on Valentine’s Day — “you do you,” he wrote on the church’s Facebook page.

However, if someone is worried about the Catholic church’s stance since fasting and abstinence are required on Ash Wednesday, he has you covered with a multi-pronged response.

To summarize: Ash Wednesday is kind of important because it is the first of 40 days of Lent. At least some sort of fasting and abstinence is probably a fair tradeoff.

“Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for you so you can probably do without that box of Whitman Samplers for one day,” Tonos wrote. “I got faith in you. You got this.”

The point also remains: Who is Valentine’s Day REALLY important to? It’s certainly not a religious holiday, so if you don’t get off from work or school, who’s it really important to?

“I am one of the many who say that it really is a corporate grab to sell food, drinks, perfumes, flowers, cards, candy, undies, and whatever. I don’t need to continue,” Tonos wrote. “... Bow to your corporate overlords. BIG CANDY IS WATCHING YOU!”

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As far as the church is concerned: You best be at mass because no one is receiving dispensation.

“If anyone asks tell them to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Mardi Gras,” Tonos said.

All that said, Tonos wrote, his accompanying Ryan Gosling meme is the best response:

“Hey girl ... I’d like to take you out for a small meal that when combined with another small meal doesn’t exceed your large meal. #catholicpickuplines.”

(For non-Catholics, the standard for fasting is you don’t necessarily have to eat nothing all day, you’re allowed two small meals or snacks as long as they don’t add up to one large meal.)

For those who aren’t quite as hip to the “Hey Girl” meme, here’s a quick explanation from Gosling himself.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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