I hope this letter finds you well as we approach a unique and spiritually significant moment in our faith journey. This year, February 14 not only marks Valentine’s Day, but also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As we cross this intersection of love and penance, I want to share with you some of our Catholic teachings behind Valentine’s Day and how we can celebrate it with a focus on stewardship.
Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine, a third-century Roman martyr who upheld the values of love, self-sacrifice, and Christian faith. He defied the Roman Empire’s ban on marriage for young soldiers, believing in the sanctity of love and the Sacrament of Marriage. His devotion to love, even in the face of persecution, serves as an inspiration to us all.
This year, Valentine’s Day coincides with Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting, prayer, and penance. We can celebrate this unique intersection of love and devotion by embracing Catholic stewardship. Here are some ways to do so:
• Lenten Sacrifice of Love: Instead of traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, consider giving something more meaningful. Make a Lenten sacrifice, such as giving up a favorite treat, luxury, or habit, and donate the money saved to Operation Rice Bowl. This act of almsgiving, rooted in love, reflects
St. Valentine’s commitment to those in need.
• Acts of Love and Kindness: Throughout Lent, perform daily acts of love and kindness. These gestures need not be grand; a simple act like calling a friend in need, helping a neighbor, or showing appreciation to a family member can be a profound expression of love and stewardship.
• Prayer and Reflection: On this Ash Wednesday, receive ashes as a visible sign of your commitment to repentance and renewal. Dedicate time to prayer and reflection, considering the ways that you can deepen your relationship with God and with one another.
• Service to the Community: Serve our community by participating in charitable activities or volunteering your time. Lent is a time for selflessness and giving. Join initiatives in our parish or engage in community service to extend your love to those in need.
• Marriage and Family Enrichment: On this day of love, focus on enriching your marriage and family relationships. Plan to attend a Marriage Encounter or Retrouvaille Weekend, pray together as a couple, or engage in family activities that promote unity and love.
Renewal of Stewardship Commitments: Use this time to review and renew your stewardship commitments of time, talent, and treasure to our parish community. Reflect on how you can contribute to the growth and vibrancy of our faith family.
By celebrating Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday through acts of stewardship, we can fill this day with the deep love and commitment that our faith encourages. This unique confluence reminds us that love and self-sacrifice are at the heart of our faith, as exemplified by
St. Valentine’s dedication to love and Christian values.
May this Valentine’s Day be a profound and spiritually rich experience, allowing us to renew our love for God, one another, and our commitment to stewardship as a way of life.
May the Lord give you peace!
Reverend Mark Zacker