LIFE Vision – ENGAGEMENT
14 February – Ash Wednesday
Unlike Christmas, Easter always falls on a Sunday, and before Easter, there is the 40-day season of Lent, which always begins on a Wednesday – Ash Wednesday, when ash is put on people’s foreheads to remind them of their mortality and their need of God. The significance of forty days is to commemorate the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness.
To calculate the date of Ash Wednesday worked – simply take the date of Easter Sunday and work back 46 days (40 days plus 6 Sundays). Easter Sunday 1 April 18 minus 46 = 14 February 18.
Christians observe Lent through prayer, fasting and almsgiving (see below). There is no requirement to fast on Sundays, because Sundays are ‘of Lent’, but not ‘in Lent, otherwise you would be fasting 46 days and not 40! Every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ rising from the dead, are so are treated as a ‘mini-Easter.’
The word alms comes from the ancient Greek word eleemosune, meaning ‘compassion’ or ‘pity,’ and the word eleos, meaning ‘mercy.’ Almsgiving is not simply about dropping loose change into a collection box; it means thinking about other people, sharing with others, giving a listening ear, giving and receiving forgiveness, being neighbourly and respecting others made in the image of God.
14 February – Saint Valentine
Valentine was a priest, or possibly a bishop, who was beaten and beheaded in Rome in the third-century. He had no connection whatsoever with courting couples, however, because the day of his death coincided with some sort of celebration about birds choosing their mates, he became linked to lovers.
Valentine is also the patron saint for happy marriages, travellers, young people and beekeepers. Those suffering fainting fits also invoke his prayers; which might come in useful, if your other half remembers to buy you chocolates and flowers on this lovers’ special day – that’s if you’ve not given them up for Lent of course!