Today is both Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day. The last time the two events fell on the same date was in 1945, writes Cathy Jenkins. Source: Melbourne Catholic.
I’m not sure if Valentine’s Day was recognised then, but it is certainly a celebration that has captured the imagination of many in the contemporary world.
There are heart-shaped chocolates in the shops, florists are anticipating a busy day and in the Catholic world, preparations are underway for a day of fast and abstinence as we move into Lent.
It’s tempting to dismiss St Valentine’s Day (and the information about the saint part is a bit sketchy) as a purely commercial venture but I suspect anything that prompts people to act a little more lovingly and kindly toward each other works to shave away some of the sharp edges of meanness from our world.
Perhaps Valentine’s Day can serve as a reminder that the quest to love and to be loved is, for all of us, at the heart of our hopes and dreams. That most of us, in our sometimes clumsy ways, do always hope and desire the very best for our families, friends and all who share our fragile planet.
I wonder if this is a little bit of the role Lent can play in our lives – a retreat time that can soften some of our sharp edges: the edges we all have and that sometimes seem to take on a life of their own. The cross words, the thoughtless acts, the weary spirit.
From the moment we hear the Ash Wednesday plaintive call from the Book of Joel: "No, no – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning"(Joel 2:12), we are invited to plunge into a different world, a different way of being. A way of being where we can lay bare our hearts as we seek wisdom and truth. A time to return to the heart and the soul of it all.
We are offered an invitation to actively re-orientate ourselves to God: because for Christians, God and the one who was so loved, Jesus, is the heart and the soul of life.
– Cathy Jenkins is Director, Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation Melbourne.
Lent – the heart of it all (Melbourne Catholic)
A Millennial’s guide to Lent (mnnews.today)
It took 40 days (Salt and Light Media)