Feast or fast?

The last time that Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day was in 1945. This year, devout Catholics will need to rethink their meat steak dinners as an option as the occasion puts carnivorous cupids into a pause mode.

As an obligatory rite by the church, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and during mass ashes are imposed on our foreheads, reminding us that “from dust we come, to dust we shall return”.

There are two obligatory days of fasting and abstinence in the calendar for Catholics 18-59 years old – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

It’s a no brainer when choosing between between fasting or feasting because of our faith. The origins of Valentine’s Day are sketchy with various resources in history dating it back to ancient Roman celebration of spring festival on the 15th of February. When Christianity was introduced, it was moved to the 14th of February to celebrate a Christian martyr named Valentine.

Over the years, the celebration of Valentine’s Day has evolved to a highly commercialised one – brimming with the fancy trimmings of the expression of love through flowers, sweets and treats over candle lit dinners.

Ash Wednesday to the Christian community marks the start of the Lenten Season, a time for reflection and penitence. While the Lenten period technically simulates the 40 days of fasting of our Jesus Christ, the actually number is 46 calendar days because the church does not count Sundays as part of Lent.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that our lives are short and we must live it to the fullest in the service of God. That we are given the Lenten season to reflect on our lives and the road to repentance and forgiveness. It paves the way for Catholics to be reminded of our humanity, and the crosses that Jesus had to bear before dying for our sins on Good Friday.

It comes as a timely reminder where we reflect on our road in life. It is ironic that this is most relevant at this day and age where so much hypocrisy, traitors and Judases exist on behalf of political, economic, personal and religious agenda. Almost 2000 years ago, we crucified someone who came to bring us hope and love. Ash Wednesday is a reminder of the love of God to us, “for He gave his only son to save the world”.

Let’s stay on track with our faith. Hopefully we choose what is right over what is convenient or fun. On a positive note, it’s best to remember Ash Wednesday as our road to realizing the Good Fridays of our lives and the countdown to our Easter Sundays.

Oh by the way, you may find this blog handy, as the next years that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day would collide are in 2024 and 2029.

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