This week we are asked to take notice of two events that seem contradictory—the beginning of the penitential period of Lent, and St. Valentine’s Day, the festive celebration of romantic love usually marked by flowers, chocolates and dinner at expensive restaurants.
But are they contradictions? Or simply different manifestations of love?
The ancient Greeks had four words for love: Storge, the affection we have for family members; Philia, the bond between friends; Eros, the desire for physical union; and Agape, our unselfish willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of another.
Pope Emeritus Benedict said that all these aspects of love come down to this: love is one thing, with the different meanings coming to the fore at different times.
But, he added, agape is the one we should be most mindful of as we enter Lent. It’s a time when we demonstrate our unselfish willingness to sacrifice ourselves—in this case for the sake of God.
So whichever manifestation of love we celebrate today, find assurance that each can be sacred if our acts of love acknowledge, celebrate and reflect God’s mercy.
Our prayer today: Heavenly Father, help me remember that my Lenten sacrifices are rooted in my love for you.