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When Hearts and Ashes Share the Limelight on February 14th: A Reflection on Earthly Bonds and Spiritual Devotion

What an intriguing coincidence! This year, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s (or Heart’s) Day fall on the same day, 14th of February. Interestingly, this rare alignment occurred in 1945 and 2018, approximately 73 years and 6 years ago, respectively. Based on historical patterns, the next occurrence is predicted in 2029 and 2096. Perhaps, the convergence of these events holds some logical or spiritual significance. What do you think?

This unique intersection prompts us to reflect on our past and present, especially concerning our relationships with loved ones and with God amidst the chaos and violence of today. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, characterized by disciplines such as prayer, penance, devotion, and fasting, fostering an atmosphere of stillness and sobriety. In contrast, Valentine’s Day is a special occasion filled with excitement, celebrated with loved ones through varying degrees of lavish or simple gifts and festivities.

While distinct, both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day share a common thread rooted in love. The confluence of these events provides an opportune moment for us to contemplate the unfolding of our lives.

Even though Valentine’s Day falls at the start of Lent, its global celebration cannot be ignored. However, there are thoughtful ways to celebrate this day during Lent by distinguishing between materialistic and meaningful expressions of love. Rather than succumbing to excessive materialism, a balanced approach involves expressing love through acts of kindness, time, compassion, and respect.

As followers of Christ, the simultaneous occurrence of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday encourages us to focus our hearts on God. This alignment may serve as a blessing in disguise, prompting us to reflect on the sacrifices of Jesus Christ during the Lenten season. Lent is not just about abstaining from material things but also fasting from sin.

While Valentine’s Day coincides with the onset of Lent, its global celebration cannot be overlooked. However, discerning ways to observe this heartfelt occasion during the Lenten season is crucial. There are appropriate ways to celebrate the heart’s day during Lent. What we could do is to draw a line between the good and bad, and simply choose the good things for the love of God. Let’s navigate the fine line between secular materialism and genuine expressions of love aligned with God’s principles.

It has been observed that Valentine’s day has become secularized even to the extreme of being used/rationalized as the special day to show one’s love according to one’s material whims and desires whether it coincides with God’s laws or not. An “old school”? Nah, we may have learned that falling under the grip of materialism with worldly mentality is where the danger lies. Did you know that the hotel/motel industry gets the highest occupancy rates during Valentine’s day? Unfortunately some couples, young and old, married or not, woo each other on this day by spending a romantic getaway escape and to be showered with material things. Is this good or bad? Not for me to say but these are realities these days. But definitely one good way to spend Valentine’s day with a special someone that transcends materialism is to express one’s true love with moderation such as gifts of kindness, time, compassion and respect. Isn’t that great? Acknowledging the prevalent secularization of Valentine’s Day, it has, at times, become a showcase for material indulgence, drifting away from spiritual values. Choosing moderation over excess, expressing love through gestures of kindness, time, compassion, and respect transcends materialism and aligns with a deeper, meaningful connection.

Lent is love. Jesus Christ’s passion and death on the cross epitomize God’s greatest love for humanity. Lent challenges us to walk with Jesus, fostering a transformation towards righteous living and compassionate deeds. Lent is about acknowledging God’s enduring, unbreakable love, far surpassing the transient nature of human love.

In his 2024 Lenten message, Pope Francis highlighted the pillars of Lent — prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, where he noted that all of these are not different acts but “a symbiotic movement of openness and self-emptying in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us.” In today’s world, rampant issues such as the pursuit of wealth, inequality, selfishness, spiritual sloth, and violence contribute to the world’s coldness. Prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and redirecting our focus from self-absorption to the needs of others would remedy this. The Holy Father invites every Christian community to offer its members moments set aside to rethink their lifestyles, times to examine their presence in society and the contribution they make to its betterment. He reminded everyone that Lent is a season of conversion, a time of grace and a time of freedom. He calls us to “pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister.”

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday with ashes on our foreheads, it serves as a poignant reminder that love is God’s greatest gift to us. This Valentine’s Day and the Lenten season, marked by ashes and love, leave an enduring impression on our lives.

For us at MUTC? Well, we shall celebrate Valentine’s day in Church, hearing mass and praying to God. Thereafter, we’ll probably have a simple meal at home sans meat and dessert!

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and a Blessed Lenten Season!

Here is My Useful Tips rendition of the song….Love is real, originally sung by John Lennon!  Feel free to click the video!  Please be patient with my guitar strumming and vocal skills (including the chuckles (wrong lyrics/word/emo?)!

ccto: for the photo featured in this blog.

One response to “When Hearts and Ashes Share the Limelight on February 14th: A Reflection on Earthly Bonds and Spiritual Devotion”

  1. Wennie says:

    Love is real, love is wanting to be loved. Wow kapatid, i really miss your golden voice. Who played the guitar, i guess you?♥️♥️♥️

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