“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Catholics all over the world will hear those words—in various languages—on February 14, as we mark the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. So … Happy Valentine’s Day, we’re all returning to dust!
In seriousness, though, while Valentine’s Day is observed as a cheerful holiday where romantics everywhere celebrate love, and Ash Wednesday is the solemn marking of the beginning of the six weeks of penitence and fasting before Easter, the two observances have the strongest emotion of them all tying them together: love.
Hallmark has made it impossible for you to NOT know that Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, and Hallmark is also responsible for all the modern hullaballoo of dinner and flowers and gifts between lovers on his feast day. The reason third-century martyr Saint Valentine (who may have actually been several people) is associated with love is the stuff of legend: Some accounts say he befriended and healed his jailor’s daughter from blindness and wrote her letters signed “from your Valentine,” others say he secretly married couples in defiance of the emperor’s orders, to help spare men from war. Either way, he continued to love, even as he faced martyrdom.
And what greater expression of love is there than that of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he faced his crucifixion so that you and I might be free from sin? What more can God do, after the sacrifice of His only begotten son, to reveal His love for us? The season of Lent is all about love, really, as we double-down on our fasting, prayers and personal sacrifices and re-commit ourselves to live Jesus’ way of love. And it is during this season that those adults preparing for baptism and full communion in the Catholic Church enter into a final period of reflection on this life of love.
This issue of the Catholic Echo is full of ideas for your personal Lenten observances. Check out the March of the Eucharist calendar, which is a schedule of Eucharistic Adoration times across the diocese throughout the season of Lent. The Fish Fry Directory can be find here, making it easier for you to find Lenten fare on Fridays. As part of your Lenten almsgiving, please reflect carefully on your contribution to the Annual Diocesan Appeal: One in Hope, One on Mission as there is no more direct way of giving to Catholic charities and initiatives in our region.
Then we have some additional important items about our faith life together as Church. We have a feature story on the diocesan finance department and financial safeguards, plus nearly three months’ worth of content at www.CatholicEcho.org. We hope you enjoy this issue and find it to be useful in the month ahead.
Until next month,