Overlap of special days prompts talk of love and change

Lent 2018 - Raise Up, Sacrifice and Offer

Having a Plan for Lent

For Phil Christopher, pastor of Abilene's First Baptist Church, the confluence of days offers an opportunity to "redefine love from being a feeling-something you can fall out of, like bed - to a sacrificial commitment".

Ash Wednesday is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.

Here's a heads-up for all you Catholic love-birds out there: Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th this year - and that's also traditionally St Valentine's Day.

"The Feast of St. Valentine is also the patronal feast of our parish, but even that being the case, liturgically Ash Wednesday has greater precedence", Soseman explained. It is not just about romantic love.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are observed particularly in Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and United Methodist faith communities, although other Christian denominations often participate.

"It is also important to know that the commemoration of Valentine Day has an impact on businesses which contributes to economic growth".

The Conference of Catholic Bishops said people ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Just as the Church once tried to counteract lewd pagan practices, Catholics can still embrace Wednesday as a day to honour the Christian ideal of agape.

Pope Francis, in his message for Lent 2018, calls the traditional practices of Lent (prayer, charity and fasting) a "soothing remedy".

The Rev. Tracie Ashley of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 5115 Cortez Road, Bradenton, has made a decision to celebrate Valentine's Day with her husband of almost 25 years, The Rev. Erick Ashley of Grace Community Church in the Tampa suburb of Lithia, by dining out this weekend, four days before the actual Valentine's Day, and devoting Valentine's Day to personal reflection. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics are asked to fast and abstain from meat.

The Most. Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, shared a similar statement on Thursday.

"Valentine is for one day and afterwards many who mark it beat up their spouses". Ashes are used in two ways in the consecration of a church; they are sprinkled on the floor in the form of a cross and mixed with the Gregorian water sprinkled on the altar in the church during the ceremony.

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They could skip breakfast and lunch and go out for a "reasonable" dinner somewhere, he said.

"It's a day of fasting, and that hasn't changed, " said Kira Ciupek, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. He said he told them that an exemption wouldn't be forthcoming. How about those who lay down their lives so that human rights of generations of people can be guaranteed and protected? You simply did not realise the self-giving, self-purifying component which authentic Valentine celebrations should bring.

Contact St. Thomas' Church or the First Congregational Church of Bethel for more information about the Ashes to Go in Bethel.

"I think it is that even though we don't want to admit it, we all realize that life is short".

" Valentine Day celebration can contribute and stimulate the economy of our immediate society".

So we may very well see people walking around next week Wednesday with ashes pon dem forehead and a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolate inna dem hand. "We are not here to stay", said Sister Esther Mary.

"There's a definite connection, Ash Wednesday and "vaLENTines" day".

Like baseball players have spring training to get back to the basics after a winter off, so Lent is the time for Christians to get back to the building blocks of a life built on Christ.

For 40 days before Easter Sunday, people try to get penance and forgiveness from their sins, with some people choosing to fast and others trying to give up something they enjoy for the duration of Lent. It is a day for us to be grounded once again in our true source of life, God.

Wolf said what couples are trying to do on Valentine's Day is to set aside a time in which they can recognize and celebrate their love and commitment to one another. These two days that have different philosophies coincide. "Remember you are marked by the cross of Christ and sealed by the love of God forever".

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