It may be providential that this year Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day.  While one is a Christian feast day and the other a secular holiday, they have something in common.  Both days focus on love.

Ash Wednesday focuses on love, you ask?  Yes, love!

As Christians, and certainly as Catholics, we have thought of Ash Wednesday as the beginning of a season of sacrifice!  When reflecting on the scriptures for Ash Wednesday, however, we note that the season of Lent is about renewal and growth, in our union with God and with others, and about the heart … You (God) delight in sincerity of heart … Rend your hearts, not your garments … A clean heart create for me, O God.

I invite you to plan a course of action for this Lenten season.  Focus on becoming more loving!

What actions might you choose to intensify your life of love and your love for life?  Who are the people needing your loving attention?  What might you give up in order to love more fully?  How will you grow your love for God and others during this Lent?

I wish to close by sharing a portion of a recent daily reflection that I received from Father Richard Rohr, OFM.  The practice he suggests might be something to incorporate into your Lenten prayer …

“Practice: Loving Kindness

We all need to practice being kind, particularly to ourselves. Only when we first reconnect with the infinite love—our original and inherent blessing—that is our ground of being can we extend that love to others through nonviolent actions. When we remember that we are love, we can truly wish even our enemies well. The Buddhist practice of metta, loving kindness, is a wonderful way to grow compassion for yourself and for others.

Begin by sitting in silence and finding the place of loving kindness within you. Then speak the following statements aloud:

May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.
May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I be happy.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease. 

Repeat these affirmations as many times as you wish. When you are ready, replace the “I” in each statement with someone else’s name. You might begin with a beloved, then move in widening circles to send love toward a friend, an acquaintance, someone who has hurt you, and finally the whole universe.

[1] The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.”