There is a familiar hymn which begins: "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love." On Wednesday, as we observe Ash Wednesday, as we leave the Church, they will know we are Christians by the ashes in the sign of the cross imposed upon our foreheads to the words: Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return." I don't know the last time Ash Wednesday fell on the feast of St. Valentine (Siri wasn't able to tell me) but it's interesting that the day of love, candy and flowers lands on the day that we begin forty days of penance, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. However, both are feasts of love. According to legend, St. Valentine was a priest martyred for the faith around the year 270 AD. Apparently the Emperor became upset when Valentine tried to convert him and had him beheaded.
The love which led St. Valentine to his death was a truly sacrificial love, for real love is sacrificial. It involves the decision to give up our own plans for comfort and security, even to the point of giving our lives away, that another person may live. So, when God humbles himself to become one of us so that we might enjoy eternal life with him, and willingly accept rejection, torture and death for our sake, that's real love. The Cross is God's Valentine to us.
I'm sure that no one of us will be asked to make the supreme sacrifice which Valentine made, but each one of us is asked to use these forty days of Lent to grow closer to the Lord, to reach out to others in service, to offer up some of the comforts which have become so much a part of our lives.
Cardinal Sean has asked that we keep the light on for you, offering the sacrament of reconciliation each Wednesday evening during Lent.. Each Wednesday all the churches, chapels and places of worship are asked to offer this opportunity to receive this great sacrament of healing. We will hear confessions each Wednesday beginning with February 21st from 7:00 to 8:00 PM and will have a Parish Penance service on the Tuesday of Holy Week, March 27 at 7:00 PM.
Please note the times of daily Mass here at St. Anthony as well as the schedule for the neighboring churches,. This might make it easier for you to attend daily Mass during Lent. May this Lent be a time of grace and spiritual enrichment for all.
Fr John R. Mulvehill