Written on: February 13, 2018
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season marked by a call to fast, to abstain and to pray. However, this year one cannot help but notice that it falls on February 14th which is also Valentine’s Day, a day for showing appreciation and love.
On pondering the confluence of these two celebrations I wondered if there was anything that could unite them. They both require selflessness and an ability to make space to welcome others into our lives. They both require an element of sacrifice or giving over of ourselves in order to invite deepening relationship.
During Lent we focus on clearing away excesses and tidying up our inner selves in order to make room to welcome the Lord in a fuller freer way so we can celebrate Easter with great joy and freshness. It’s a spiritual journey that lasts six weeks. It requires introspection and sacrifice as well as generosity of heart. We are marked with the sign of the cross on our foreheads as a sign of our willingness to journey through these days fostering relationship with our God.
What does this day represent and invite? This day celebrates love and the gift that we give to another by welcoming them into relationship with us. We mark it with gifts of flowers, cards and gestures to show our love and appreciation. However, as relationships deepen, the outward signs of our affection may change.
The inner journey toward deepened relationship requires many of the same things that the season of Lent invites: sacrifice, clearing away the unnecessary and letting go of selfishness so that we may be expansive, free and true in our loving.
Making space for others and ourselves requires time, attention and commitment. This is the opportunity that the season of Lent offers us every year. Let’s all try to make a commitment to grow in relationships that are honest, true and loving. Don’t worry about the outward gestures. Let us focus on the inner journey toward great freedom and transparency in our relationships with God, ourselves and others.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH is a member of her Congregation’s Leadership. She has been a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart for over fifty years serving in a variety of ministries. Along with her duties as a member of leadership, Sister Mary Elizabeth also ministers as a Spiritual Director.