by Fabian Oliver
This Valentine’s Day is one with a twist and perhaps one which will see many couples in church praying together as opposed to being on a romantic date under the stars. But does Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, ruin the whole love and romantic experience associated with Valentine’s Day and the month of love?
Lent and love
Lent is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is a time where we ‘die to self’ with intentions of drawing closer to our Lord and Saviour. Our spiritual depth increases whilst our earthily desires diminish. We become advocates for the meaning of humanity not living on bread alone, but on the Word, life and love of God. Lent therefore can be a time for married, engaged, dating/courting couples to fast for one another, pray and grow in spiritual intimacy, and give their time to serve one another without complaint or restraint.
Fasting and prayer
Any good relationship in my opinion should be one filled with chemistry and intimacy. But more often than not couples tend to focus on the physical aspects and ignore the spiritual. Lent can be a time where couples grow in spiritual intimacy by praying together more frequently, fasting together and reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture together. Fasting can be refraining from certain foods but also, couples can choose to refrain from certain habits which hinder their growth and closeness to God and one another.
“For it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35). Lent provides a beautiful platform for couples to give more time to listen and help each other. Instead of complaining and arguing, replace rather with compliments and compassion. Lent allows couples to restore what was lost or better put by Saint John of the Cross, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.” Couples can also offer up their time to serve society together by helping the poor and abandoned (giving food, clothes, time to assist at an orphanage, animal shelter or hospice, etc.)
Marriage and God
While this post is aimed at mainly couples, Lent is not. It is for everybody. Those that are single and desire marriage are encouraged to pray and fast with those intentions made known to God. In a society filled with many broken and toxic relationships we are called to pray for all couples, that they may “reflect the love of God and not replace it” (words by Jason Evert). Even our religious and those aspiring religious life are in need of constant prayer and support, as they marry Jesus and the Church and fulfill on earth our heavenly purpose of Jesus the bridegroom, and we the Church as the bride.
So perhaps Valentine’s Day falling on Ash Wednesday is no coincidence, but a necessary pathway for all couples to offer up their love to the infinite Love of God who will restore and bless the relationships of all the faithful.