For the first time since 1945, Christians around the world have today witnessed Valentine’s day fall on the same day as Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lent season.
Many have flocked worship places to receive their ashes. It is one of the most powerful days in the Church’s calendar since it echoes the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.
The ashes, a symbol of penance, which are often placed on a worshipper’s forehead in the shape of a cross, are a solemn reminder that, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
For many, Valentine’s Day, often means a fancy dinner, decadent chocolates, flowers, and possibly some alcohol. According to some Clergy, the two holidays need not be contradictory.
“Both are about love: Valentine’s Day celebrates human love, while the Christian season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, is a time recognizing Jesus Christ’s love for humanity,” The Rev. Gabriel Torretta says.
To quite differ from the above, chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Philip Anyolo told Christians in Kenya this week: “These two days that have different philosophies coincide. So Christians have to be careful on what they give prominence.”
He urged the congregation to focus on the significance of Ash Wednesday, and shift from the pleasures that come with celebrating the worldly day of love.
“Lent season requires Christians to make a lot of sacrifices through fasting and doing good to others, especially for old and other needy people. This season helps us to love one another as we seek God’s grace.” The secretary general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Msgr Dr John Baptist Kauta says.
“Ugandans should know that the Lenten season is beginning today. We wish all Ugandans a fruitful Lenten season, but not forgetting that today it is Ash Wednesday, which they must observe as the first day of the liturgical period of Lent; A time of prayer and fasting in the life of a Christian,” Kauta adds.
At St. Stephens Church of Uganda, Luzira – Namirembe Diocese, the Ash Wednesday main service will begin at 5:00pm, today, led by the Assistant Vicar Rev. Simeon Charles Ddumba.
Just so you know, the 1st of April 2018, popularly known as April Fools Day, will also be Easter Sunday.