For the first time since 1945, Valentine’s day falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday in 2018. Valentine’s day is about celebrating love and for Christians, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. But do the two have anything in common?
Lent is the time when Christians take time to try and live God’s way, the way that Jesus showed us. Of course, we try to do this every day of our lives! But Lent can mean going the ‘extra mile’. For example, some Christians decide to take up new ways of living -perhaps by giving things away or reading the Bible or praying more. Some Christians decide to give things up for the season – like chocolate or crisps, social media or TV watching.
The most popular story about the origins of Valentine’s day comes from Rome in the third Century AD. Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage and Valentine, a priest, began to arrange marriages in secret but was eventually found out and sentenced to death. Whilst in prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be killed on the 14th of February he sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine’. Later, this day started to be used by people to express their feelings to those they loved.
Valentine’s Day is about love – and so is Lent. Love often means giving up something for other people – by being unselfish and generous, thoughtful and kind.
A contemporary prayer for Valentine’s Day / Lent
Thank you for all the love in our lives and in the world. Help us to share that love with other people each and every day.
Give us courage to let go of things this Lent. Help us to discover more about following Jesus and sharing his love in the world.
As we think about your love for us this Lent, help us to take up new ways of living. Help us to live generously and make a difference to others. Amen.
A traditional prayer for Lent
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.