Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IT happens once in a blue moon. I’m referring to the fact that this year, both the Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day of February 14. We might find it both intriguing and ironic since both events do not seem to share the same character. In fact, many of us would tend to think that Valentine’s Day would undermine Ash Wednesday, and Ash Wednesday would spoil Valentine’s Day.

But that should not be the case. If we are guided by our Christian faith, we actually would be excited to realize that these two celebrations actually help each other mutually. Valentine’s Day would humanize Ash Wednesday, filling it with human affections. And Ash Wednesday would divinize Valentine’s Day, making it pursue its spiritual and supernatural goal.

It’s a question of seeing these two celebrations under the light of the real love that comes from God and is a sharing and channeling of God’s love. It’s a love that is both sweet and bitter, always triumphant in the end even as it has to go through apparent defeats and losses here in this life.

It’s a love that demands self-emptying so as to be filled with the spirit of God. It is a love that requires sacrifices, and ultimately death, so we can acquire the eternal life of bliss with God in heaven, where our definitive home and state of life is.

It’s a love that requires us to be continually converted, as we are reminded in the first reading of the day’s Mass from the Book of Joel. “Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning,” we are told. (2,12) That’s because despite our efforts to do good as we should, we cannot help but err and sin. We are prodded to be always reconciled with God. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,20)

And knowing how erratic we are in carrying out this duty of conversion, we are exhorted in the gospel of the day to be sincere and to have rectitude of intention in our dealings with God through our prayers and sacrifices. (cfr. Mt 6,1-6.16-18)

“Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise, you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven,” Christ tells us. “Take heed that you do not do your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise, you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.”

We have to be most careful in handling our intentions. They play a strategic role in our life, for how and where we direct them would determine whether we want to be with God and simply with our own selves.

Our intentions express who and where in the end we want to be. Do we choose God, or do we simply choose ourselves, or the world in general? It’s actually a choice between good and evil.

Even if we are not aware, or refuse to be aware, of this choice, which is usually the case, the choice between God and us, between good and evil is always made with every human act we do.

As we start the Lenten Season, let us grow in generosity in our love for God and for others, making that love both human and  divine, eager to go to the limits of our humanity to enter into the supernatural life and nature of God.



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