February 14 to March 31 is known as the Lenten season for 2018. Have you noticed that February 14th is both Valentine’s day and the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday) this year? It will be interesting to see how we process the dichotomy of these two occasions. Traditionally we would celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, flowers, and gifts, and yet we would move into Lent by giving up chocolates and other such favorites.
In the Christian world Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. Lent is a 40 day period (minus Sundays) of sacrifice and giving-up chocolates or, perhaps, whatever tempts us most. There is nothing in scripture to support this practice, but the Lenten practice took hold following the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, as the people were losing their zeal for the church. You might remember that the Nicene Creed also stems from that period of time. Authorities reportedly established these changes in hopes of giving the church a boost.
As for St. Valentine there are a number of mysterious stories. The Catholic Church officially recognizes that there are at least three different martyred saints named Valentine. Because the church claimed that single men made better soldiers than those who were married, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men. St. Valentine, made the mistake of defying Claudius and continued to officiate marriages. Claudius had Valentine put to death. This Valentine took a stand for love! Other stories suggest that St. Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned St. Valentine fell in love with a young girl who may have been his visitor during confinement (maybe the jailor’s daughter!) Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed, “From Your Valentine!” Without fear of a rulers’ threats, we are free to show our love to others and even get married if we choose. Today we celebrate these brave men by expressing our love.
Although the history is interesting and a bit bizarre, I love this season! As you and I are anticipating spring, Valentine’s Day and Lent present us with possibilities for new beginnings. This is a time of year to venture into your imagination and play with fresh new ideas of how you might be who you really are? There are so many loving, kind, and creative ways to approach Valentine’s Day and Lent that will add your special spark of love to the world!
The only limit is how you wish to apply your power and God-given gift of imagination. It might be fun to invite a new or familiar friend to join you as a spiritual partner for the season; this may be the year you share prayer or Master Mind time!
Another creative practice might be to give-up complaining and criticizing. Wow! How clean we would all feel, if we eliminated our inner and outer critic! Imagine doing that for 40 weekdays days and the Sundays during that season! (I don’t eliminate Sundays from my practice as the church does; it’s just my choice on my adventure.)
A spiritual practice in the arena of paying-it-forward may be to look for the good and offer all the honest compliments that you can muster for anyone and everyone you meet. The positive feelings you give to another only come back to you tenfold. You’re always a winner when giving.
If you have not begun a gratitude journal for 2018, it’s not too late! Gratitude is the greatest state of receivership. It will feel so good, not only each day, but even more so at the end of Lent, as you celebrate New Life! Your New Life!
What about taking another look at something over which you disagree. Can you find a way to look at it in a completely new way and come to a bi-partisan agreement? With whom do you not agree? Can you work on that? Gosh! When I contemplate the thought of these and other opportunities to be love, I find it very exciting!
So I invite you to say, Yes, to love this season! It may be just what God ordered! J This season could be the start of new spiritual adventure that results in experiences that bring more life, love, spiritual lessons and growth for you! Call it all Joy! Whatever you choose to do this Valentine’s Day and this season of Lent, choose something meaningful and purposeful that demonstrates who you really are: Love! ❤️
Love to All Forever!
P.S. I think that I’ll go for the chocolate! What about you?