Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s All Think About Where We Failed

By Annie-Rose Keith

Connecting Faith and Life

What a unique situation we found ourselves in this Lent. I have to wonder if fighting the urge to ignore one’s Lenten fast and dive head first into a bowl of Valentine’s candy was the case for others on the recent occasion of Ash Wednesday overlapping with Valentine’s Day. These events are a perfect example of the spiritual overlapping with the secular and because of the nature of the current culture … secularities are usually the loudest voices in the room. What are we supposed to do when a day where we’re called to take a step back, fast and pray overlaps with a day that is often characterized by consumerism, particularly one with such clearly sacred roots? St. Valentine’s Day is very clearly a day with roots deep in Christian tradition but, this year, Ash Wednesday took precedence. Neither of them was a holy day of obligation! How, as Catholic Christians, are we supposed to approach days like this?

Our liturgical calendar caters to the seasons of our soul and follows the life of Christ while weaving itself beautifully into our geographic seasons. Leaning into these seasons yields some amazing fruit both in our lives and in the lives of future generations. Lent comes at the perfect time because it begins in the quiet of winter, but emerges with the beauty of Christ’s Resurrection. The earth is waking from a deep sleep. It is green, it is new, we are growing, and there is fresh hope. What about when April Fool’s Day overlaps with Easter? Are we to pull practical jokes on our fellow congregants at Mass while simultaneously belting the Gloria with the fire of a thousand new converts? Please don’t.

This juxtaposition of sacred and secular weaves together quite well if one is intentional and reflective. For example, Valentine’s Day is a day that celebrates romantic love, but think of what could be included in our celebrations if love is looked at in the broader sense. Romantic love, which is highlighted the most in our culture, is merely one department. What could be celebrated if we expanded this Valentine’s umbrella to include God’s unconditional love for us? How much richer would Sunday be if we pondered the sacrificial meal for us on the altar instead of the menu for the Super Bowl party? Lent calls us to turn away from those ways and means of not loving those around us. It gives us an opportunity to focus specifically on loving God, others and ourselves. Maybe it is fitting that this season that calls us to conversion began with an opportunity to shake off the areas in which we failed so we can love more fully.