February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday AND St. Valentine’s Day

Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s Day both occur on the same time this year, and that’s today. Of course “Ash Wednesday has precedence,” says Cardinal Dolan, “and the coincidence of St. Valentine’s Day would not lift for us the duty of fasting and self-denial.” But a more positive way to look at it, he continues, is that “both days center on the heart”:

The very symbol of St. Valentine’s Day is the heart, the icon of love, especially the romantic love between a man and a woman. We’ll send greetings and boxes of sweets that are both heart-shaped.
Ash Wednesday, the first of forty days of prayer, penance, and charity we call Lent, leading us to Holy Week and Easter, is also about the heart: a heart called sacred, wounded by unreturned love, broken by callousness and selfishness: the heart of Jesus.
This heart is on fire with love for us, but surrounded by a crown of thorns. It will be pierced by a spear on that Friday weirdly termed “good” on a hill called Calvary, a heart beating in the broken body of a man on a cross.
It is the love of this heart from which all true love flows. It is this Sacred Heart we trust this Wednesday; it is this Heart we turn to through our repentance and acts of sacrifice and atonement this Wednesday.
St. Valentine willingly bows to this Sacred Heart, for which even he lovingly gave his life eighteen centuries ago.

Now then, my dear fellow Catholics, have a Blessed Ash Wednesday AND a Happy St. Valentine’s Day!