Isn’t it peculiar that currently is both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday? If you ask me, it’s a transparent case of boundless providence.
In A.D. 325 the Council of Nicaea motionless that Easter would be distinguished the Sunday following the first full moon on or after the open equinox.
In other words, but going into too much detail, the date we applaud Easter is the outcome of a arrange of astronomical convergence. This year, there’s also a fascinating eremite and informative joining on the calendar: Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day.
Are there two some-more culturally opposite days than Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday?
The former is compared with flowers and candy; the last with dim smudges on people’s foreheads. On Valentine’s Day, people design romance. On Ash Wednesday, it’s about plea and self-denial. The difference you need to remember on Valentine’s Day are “I adore you.” But on Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dirt and to dirt you will return.”
These days just don’t seem to fit together, but that’s since we’ve lost the genuine story of Valentine’s Day. No, not the corporate origination of nod label companies, but the day to remember the third-century Christian martyr: Valentinus of Rome.
Not a lot is famous about Valentinus, but the most-widely supposed chronicle of his martyrdom is that he ran afoul of the czar Claudius II. Claudius had taboo matrimony in Rome since he believed that “Roman men were reluctant to join the army since of their clever connection to their wives and families.”
Valentinus defied the czar by marrying couples in secret. He was held and executed on or about Feb 14.
Whether the story happened accurately that way or not, every ancient anxiety to Valentinus associates him and Feb 14th with martyrdom and sacrifice. And that’s wise for the tact of Lent, which also starts today.
Our culture’s perspective of adore and intrigue is so disfigured and dangerous, it only seems suitable to applaud this Valentine’s Day with repentance.
Now don’t get me wrong: romantic love, what C.S. Lewis called “Eros,” is not wrong. In fact it’s a present from God. As Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, when rightly ordered, eros causes us to toss “personal complacency aside as a trinket and [plant] the interests of another in the core of the being.”
Romantic adore can be, as Lewis put it, “a foretaste, of what we must turn to all if Love Himself manners in us but a rival.”
And that’s the correct place of eros … not as an finish in and of itself, but as a means—something that points over itself—and points the hearts over ourselves to a aloft love, agape, a adore that only comes from God Himself.
Lent turns the concentration to that sum self-giving adore of God, that adore that caused God to turn man and live and die as one of us, for the sakes, despite the impiety and rebellion.
The passionate series has, in so many ways, jumbled eros, treating it as an end, not a means. But disfigured eros is no longer unselfish and life-giving. It becomes a arrange of mutant sensuality, that creates the greedy and deleterious brokenness the enlightenment is being forced to reckon with this year.
Today, Ash Wednesday, reminds us that there’s more… some-more to life than erotic pleasures, some-more to adore than the shriveled-up chronicle that has perplexed the Western imaginations.
So today, ask yourself, “how am we responding to so good an countenance of adore as what God has shown us?” Valentinus’s response was to give up his own life.
For us too, a kind of “death” is required—a death to self, a death to the desires that the enlightenment treats as ultimate.
Now of march guys, nothing of this lets you off the offshoot with your wives. So don’t forget the flowers.
Ashes for Valentine’s Day: The Convergence of Eros and Agape
Ash Wednesday reminds us of the sacrificial adore Christ displayed for us, while Valentine’s Day reminds us to be sacrificial in the adore one for another. Let the joining of these two days motivate us to plea and self-giving love.