Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Culture | By Stewart Greene

A penitential Valentine's Day

A penitential Valentine's Day

In addition, these experts explain that the percentage of marriages that will last the lifetime of the individuals involved - so that they will find themselves with the same person in old age as the same one they married when they were young - has diminished significantly. During the weekends when friends were preoccupied with spouses, kids or boyfriends, I would occasionally take myself to Westminster Cathedral for some spiritual pampering.

Then, approximately 40 days after that, on Sunday, April 1, we will see Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day happening at the same time.

On the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, John's Gospel tells of Christ's glorification through His cross and resurrection.

The second is more unusual.

I was at a Parochial Church Council, or PCC, meeting the other day (PCCs are the groups running your local parish churches) and said to show my love to my wife this year that perhaps I needed to "say it with ashes".

What will card-maker Hallmark do with that? "Now, it will happen some more times more frequently in the near future".

"No joke", McGrath commented.

Christians who are part of liturgical traditions (following a set pattern for worship and marking the year by seasons that point us to Jesus) observe Ash Wednesday.

The Lights have been married for four years and are the parents of two children.

And what would I do if I were unmarried and single on Valentine's Day this year?

Observed by many Christians, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent, a period that leads to Easter and has its roots in Jesus' 40 days in the desert. And just like the popular romantic holiday, Lent is all about love. "We are not here to stay", said Sister Esther Mary.

Michael Sis, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, which includes Abilene churches, offers some spiritual and practical advice. This year raises a delicate quandary, therefore, for those who will be giving up chocolate! "In fact, I have a special shelf at home where I save chocolates".

I asked some fellow married Catholic women how they were approaching this conundrum.

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. Think about the true missionaries who came to us, many of them just as poor as we are, who built our churches, our schools, hospitals and brought education to the remotest places so that multitudes may be educated, liberated and empowered. Sometimes we have made a bad personal choice, we have inflicted physical or emotional distress on another or we've turned our back on God for one reason or another. As Pope Benedict XVI once said, Lent "stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters". Christopher suggested that a re-commitment to one another might better serve married couples than giving something up.

Christians observing Ash Wednesday typically attend solemn services focusing on the Lenten season, a time when people reflect on Christ's sacrifice and suffering.

Some common things to give up include limiting social media or TV for 40 days to make more time and space for God; giving up judging others, gossiping or negative talk; giving up candies or junk food and donating that money to the poor. What I am encouraging people to do is to love God.

In 325 CE, the Council of Nicaea, a gathering of Christian bishops, decided that there should be a more organized and universal way to decide when Easter would be celebrated, the AJC previously reported.

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