It’s an odd thing that Ash Wednesday falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day this year. I overheard someone make the comment, “How unromantic is that?”
I must admit. Having ashes spread across your forehead while you are reminded that you came from dust and to dust you will return, isn’t the best way to start the most romantic day of the year. The image of a young couple newly in love sitting across a nice meal in a romantic restaurant with black smudges on their heads seems a little off. Maybe it’s not as off as we think.
What is Ash Wednesday?
As Wednesday is the day that begins the liturgical season known as Lent for the Christian churches in the Western traditions. It’s the day that begins a season of fasting and self-denial. It begins the season where we prepare our hearts and minds for the culmination of the Easter celebration. We remember that we are dust. We are nothing without God. We are nothing without Christ’s sacrifice and the Resurrection. It is a season that this life that Jesus calls us to is a life of continually dying to self.
What is Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day was started to remember the death of St. Valentine. Since St. Valentine was martyred around the year of 270, we’ve lost who he was. There are many stories regarding St. Valentine, but the only thing that historians seem to agree on is that we know he was killed for his faith on Feb 14.
Culturally this day has become a day to celebrate those that we love. Not brotherly love or the love we have for friends. We celebrate the deep significant love of the one we choose to be with. The one we choose to spend our life with.
Why do we buy gifts for this person or make time for special dates with them on Valentine’s Day? Because we want to demonstrate how we feel. We want to show them that we care. We do this by spending our money, our time, or both. We do this by sacrificing a part of our selves on a special preset date as a memorial of what they mean to us and a symbol of our love all year round.
Aren’t we doing something similar during Lent? Aren’t we fasting to physically demonstrate a deeper love that is worth our sacrifice? Maybe it isn’t unromantic at all. Maybe it’s the deepest form of romance possible.
During this season, may you truly deepen your faith and romance with our Lord and Savior. May you understand, even a little bit more, His sacrifice and deep, eternal, reckless love for you.
Featured image by João Silas