This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. Paradoxical? Perhaps to some. Inconvenient? For many Catholics, certainly (sweethearts and school teachers alike). However, one could also draw profound meaning from this providential collision of observances.
We love because God loved us first.
(cf. 1 John 4:19)
While the secular world exchanges heart-shaped boxes in hues of reds and pinks, we will receive ashes symbolizing a “love stronger than death.” On the same day that roses will descend on sweethearts everywhere, our sanctuaries will be stripped of all flowers. Many will celebrate with sumptuous dinners and romantic music while we are treated to fasting and abstinence; Parce Domine (Spare us, Lord) is our love song, and the Sacrament of Love is our feast, a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet. He alone truly and completely satisfies our deepest hunger, our deepest longing, and our deepest desires.
As Catholic Christians, we strive to encounter Christ’s love and longing not just for a day, but for a season. This year, we might compare Lent to a forty-day observance of Valentine’s Day. It is a journey of love into the heart of Christ and His Passion—a journey that is a response to His unquenchable love for each one of us. In doing so, we celebrate a different kind of Passion—a love that transcends this world and our earthly years. He desires that each one of His adopted sons and daughters can say with utmost conviction: “For God so loved (your name), that He sent His only Son”. His personal love for you is expressed on the cross—its intensity and completeness is revealed in the intensity and completeness of His suffering. He is the Divine Lover.
In lieu of roses and chocolates, send up prayers for a fruitful Lenten journey to the heart of Christ, our Divine Lover.
Be assured of our daily prayers for a grace-filled Lenten journey into to the very heart of our Blessed Savior, Jesus Christ.