It is unusual for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, to fall on St. Valentine’s Day. It happened only twice during the 20th century. However, the coincidence of the two seemingly disparate holidays offers some opportunity for reflection about the nature of true love.
For one thing, the only historical fact we have about Saint Valentine is that, rather than renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, he endured martyrdom during a third century Roman persecution. Now there’s some TRUE love!
Cheryl Magness at The Federalist also offered these thoughts:
Yes, I know. Valentine’s Day is all pink and bouncy and glittery and fluffy, whereas Ash Wednesday is pensive, serious, and dark. Valentine’s Day is about the imperfect and faltering love human beings have for each other—a love primarily erotic or romantic, although many of us use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express affection for family and friends as well.
Ash Wednesday, on the other hand, is about the divine love of God—a love expressed in the act of sending his only-begotten son to die for the sins of all mankind. What possible connection can such perfect love have to the love that we humans struggle to muster for one another—a love that is often unreliable and self-serving, notwithstanding all our Valentine’s Day sentiments to the contrary?
For Christians, the connection is that the only reason we are capable of showing any kind of love to one another is that Christ first showed love to us. When our love for each other fails, as it invariably does in ways both large and small, we look to Christ to see what perfect love looks like, and we find in that perfect love forgiveness for all the times we have fallen short.
Since we, as Catholics, are required to fast on Ash Wednesday, Dearest and I had our Valentine’s Day celebration on Monday. Today, we’re pondering what we’ve learned about love during our 38 years as a couple.
Today, I also offer my prayers and hungry tummy for all of you, that God will bless us abundantly and help us to journey through Lent 2018 with the same intensity of love and devotion that we traditionally show our earthly lovers on St. Valentine’s Day.