2018 would be remembered, for date-lovers, as a year, when Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day…
… and further Easter Sunday coinciding with April’s Fools Day (April 1st)!
A common joke is doing the rounds these days on social media, goes thus:
Someone asked: “What is the specialty of Feb 14?”
Another guy asks back: “Are you having a wife or a girlfriend?”
“A wife”, comes the reply.
… then, its Ash Wednesday for you!”
Well… jokes apart, it’s interesting to reflect on this dimension of the two days – Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day – falling together.
Valentine’s Day is, of course, a day when a there is a “sudden” wave of expression of love and care and affections to the ones whom we love.
When taken in the right spirit and when celebrated in a meaningful way, this Day becomes a Day…
… of “specially” recognizing the worth of the one(s) we love
… of showing our love and affection to the one(s) dear to the our heart
But our modern society unfortunately and tragically, sometimes tends to “rob” this day to be celebrated in a meaningful.
>> “Love” is highly commercialized and “sold”
>> External affections are unduly given greater importance, forgetting the prime duties involved with love
>> Advertisers and commercialists rake in massive profits with a number of external objects portraying “love”
Whether this day truly becomes a day of “expressing genuine love and care”
>> Or whether it is more, a day of “externalities of ‘love-feelings’ taking the upper-hand…
… is a matter of debate, as well as a matter of one’s own personal choice and view.
But as a Christian, this day – Feb 14 – celebrated as Ash Wednesday…
… is a day for us to remind ourselves to grow in the Immensity of God’s Love
… is a day for us to revive our basic duty of caring and being responsible to one another
… is a day for us to rediscover the worthiness of our lives and commit to grow in holiness
Today, with Ash Wednesday, we begin the Holy Season of Lent.
Ashes are an important element of this Ash Wednesday’s Liturgy.
The ashes are made from the Blessed Palms used at the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year…
… and blessed with Holy Water.
The priest says the words:
>> “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
>> (or) “Repent and believe in the Gospel”
These ashes remind us of…
… the littleness of our earthly life, and the need to give greater priority to our Spiritual Life
… the need to repent of our sins and express our willingness to live in holiness and sanctity
… the graciousness of God’s Mercy which is always available to those who turn towards Him
The Gospel of the Day emphasizes on the “Virtue of Humility” that needs to embellish the life of every Christian.
>> Ashes are an external form of “we being willing, to learn in the School of Humility!”
The Gospel of the Day (Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18) is a teaching by Jesus on the prime importance of doing away with pride and instead, beautifying one’s life with sincere humility .
Jesus speaks of the three core practices that were essential pious practices of His time: ALMSGIVING, PRAYER and FASTING (PENANCE).
>> And how these ought to be done with sincere humility and not in pride!
1. With respect to almsgiving, Jesus says…
… “sound no trumpet” (Mt 6:2)
2. With respect to prayer, Jesus says…
… “shut the door and pray to your Father” (Mt 6:6)
3. With respect to fasting, Jesus says…
…”anoint your head and wash your face” (Mt 6:17)
It is also interesting to note that these 3 practices also refers to the 3 dimensions of Love: towards God, towards others, towards oneself
1. Prayer: Reminding ourselves to grow in the Immensity of God’s Love
2. Almsgiving: Reviving our basic duty of caring and being responsible to one another
3. Fasting (Penance): Rediscovering the worthiness of our lives and commit to grow in holiness
Yes, this Ash Wednesday is a Great Day for all of us, to begin this Season of Holiness, to Grow in Love…
… Love of God
… Responsibility and Care of others
… Respect and Reverence of our own life
A few practical tips could help us to make this Season of Lent, more meaningful:
1. It is said that habits – to make a new one or to break an old one – generally take around 21 days
>> These 40+ days of Lent are a chance for us to “double” our efforts towards…
… positively growing in a “good virtuous habit”
… negatively rooting out a “not-so-good vicious habit”
(A few examples:
… Reading a portion of the Bible daily
… Learn by heart, some verses of the Bible and make it a personal prayer
… Identify the “root vice” of life, and practice the opposite – “the root virtue”
… Try to frequent Holy Mass / spend time with the Eucharistic Lord, as much as possible
… 40 simple acts of kindness
… Abstain from something that is “dear” and offer it is a sacrifice for someone in need
… Revive personal/family prayer
… Reduce time spent on the internet/social media
… Visit a home of charity or those in our vicinity who needs a help
… Abstain from gossiping/back biting/ irritable words
… Bring a person(s) closer to Christ/Church)
Can we choose, on this day, a habit in our personal life, which we need to “make or break”…
… for these days of Lent?
2. The Season of Lent covers a period of 7 weeks
>> 7 – a number of fullness and completeness is a call for us to grow in the Virtue of Charity.
We could identify 7 people – corresponding to the 7 weeks of Lent, who need our help.
>> This help may be any of the following:
… spiritual help
… social acceptance
… materialistic needs
… emotional assistance
Let this 14th of February be a day for us, to re-discover Jesus, the True Lover Who displays the real meaning of love!
>> The Lord…holds our hands, and in deep love and affection asks us, “Will you be My valentine forever?”
Let’s not blush….let’s not be shy…
>> May this Season of Lent help us – in deep faith and true commitment – to pledge forever, our love to the Lover of all Hearts!
Wish you all a Very Happy and Blessed Season of Lent.
>> May our Blessed Mother of Compassion lead us and may all the Saints intercede for us!
God Bless! Live Jesus!