This year, February is the month when love is literally at the center of it all. Of course, here comes Valentine’s Day. However, this year, Ash Wednesday is February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day.
The core symbol of the celebration of love I am speaking of is not marked by fancy hearts, clever rhymes, or chocolates but by the sign of the cross, marked in ashes on our foreheads. The cross is our symbol of the greatest love known. Jesus Christ reveals God’s love made visible.
During the forty days of Lent, we walk the path of remembering all that love embraces–a way of the cross that reveals the true nature of love, takes on the sin of humanity, overcomes death and teaches us the substance and meaning of hope.
Love is not a passing feeling or a warm fuzzy sentiment expressed in a card. Love is a response to a deep encounter with God in faith. God’s love brings us to life and is the source of all love. Through grace, love draws us outward to others, providing both witness and action. In his encyclical ” Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love), Pope Benedict asserts, “Love grows through love. Love is ‘divine’ because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all.'” (Deus Caritas Est, #18)
This month we offer three essential ways to live our faith anew as we walk this path of love. Three dimensions of love to embrace: Love Listens, Love Forgives, and Love Reaches Out.
“Love is the light, and in the end, the only light that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God.” Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, #39
As we begin our Lenten journey, may the cross remind us to embrace the depth and breadth of God’s love.
by Sr. Katherine Feely, SND www.justfaith.org