The Liturgical Mash-up That Is On Point!

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It’s a rare occurrence that has many talking – this year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14, the day synonymous with roses, chocolates and romance.

And certainly, at first glance Saint Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday are not compatible.

I mean, romantic love and a day given over to fasting and abstinence? I guess hubby is sighing with relief that he gets out of the obligatory chocolate gift this year…we certainly won’t be attempting to go out for dinner to mark the anniversary of our first date, and spend some time together as a couple sans the company of our five children. Number six could come along but only because they’re in utero.

No, instead we’ll likely be attending an evening Mass as a family, fasting and abstaining from meat and finalising the details of our intended Lenten sacrifices.

But it is important that we recognise that Saint Valentine, like all of the others in the Communion of Saints, was not concerned so much with romantic love but REAL love.

And what is real love?

Real love is laying down your life for your friends.

Real love is an act of self-sacrifice and self-surrender for the good of the other. And no one exemplifies this more than Jesus in His horrific and yet ultimately salvific Crucifixion.

This year we are reminded, in the most obvious of ways that love is not love if it is selfish, and that the greatest love of all was shown on Calvary over two millennia ago.

By entering the Lenten season on a day usually reserved for expressions of love, we are reminded of the mortality of this life, that all things are passing, and reminded that our attention should be firmly focused on the next life. The roses and chocolates given in affection on Saint Valentine’s Day pale in comparison to the Crown of Thorns and bouquet of bloodied nails.

And so they should.

This does not mean, of course, that we shouldn’t reflect on and be conscious of those we love in this life. We should, but our reflection should be more than just being thankful for their love. We need to ask ourselves the question: am I loving them as I ought? Is my love one of self-sacrifice, or one of self-interest? Am I daily laying down my life for my friends – whether they be husband, or children or neighbour?

So perhaps the seemingly unlikely pairing of Saint Valentine and Ash Wednesday is actually a masterful brushstroke, undertaken by our Heavenly Father. A Saint Valentine’s Day gift that is worth more than any other gift in human history; the gift of His Only Son for our salvation.

A Saint Valentine’s Day gift that re-presents the Greatest Love as the only enduring love story. The only love that saves.

And it calls us to follow in His footsteps, to love until it hurts. To empty ourselves and allow Christ’s light to fill us. To be willing to shoulder our crosses, and carry them not just in Lent, but every single day, in cheerful and loving obedience.

So this year hubby and I will focus less on the twelfth anniversary of our first date and more on the sacrifice of Our Lord.

And I daresay that we’ll be the better for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Filed Under: FaithFeaturedSpirituality

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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