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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day during Lent?

I was chatting with a dear friend last night about Valentine's Day. She mentioned taking down her decorations and it made me think: Is it sinful to experience love and joy on Valentine's Day since it is the 2nd day of Lent? Is it? Some of you may be nodding yes right now, but I gave it alot of thought. The first thing that came to mind was the story my mom told me of how she never got to celebrate her birthday when it fell during Lent. Can you imagine not celebrating your child's life? It is something the kids look forward to for months! Guess what? So is Valentine's Day. As a child, there were stars in my eyes as I looked at the different boxes of Valentine's cards at Mott's. I got excited about giving my teachers a special treat. I couldn't wait to get home and neatly write each of my classmates' names on the envelopes. I'd start thinking about the party we would have at school. All to celebrate love! I still remember some of the Valentine's Day crafts we made....even in Kindergarten! Those memories bring warmth and love to my heart even to this day.

Now that I am a mom, I want my kids to feel that same joy. The joy of GIVING something to others. Is it a far stretch to say that this is the same giving in almsgiving? The children are not just focused on what they will receive, but when they are, it is totally appropriate, they are kids! Which brings me to my next thought:

The church says, "No meat can be eaten on Ash Wednesday and all of the Fridays during Lent. This applies to all Catholics 14 and older," and "Only one full meal is permitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for Catholics between 18 and 59. Two smaller meals are permitted, but the small meals should not equal a second full meal. Drinking coffee, tea and water between meals is allowed. Snacks between meals are not allowed."

You can decide for your own family at what age you think children should 'fully participate.' I do not want my kids to look at Lent as something that squashed out Valentine's Day or birthday parties. They are too young to process what we process.

As a child who was raised by a Catholic mother and Baha'i father, Lent only meant getting a little cardboard money box for the table, giving something up, and no meat on Fridays. As an adult, my knowledge of Catholic traditions has grown by leaps and bounds. I now know and follow the church's teachings. We will squeeze in extra prayer, extra rosaries, extra adoration, and hopefully daily mass. We will give to the poor. We will attend Stations of the Cross as well as go over them at home. We will make sacrifices. We will fast. We will go to Mass. We will make Lent "intentional" (as described by my friend, Lauren, here in her article posted by Austin Catholic New Media).

My children are already way ahead of where I was as a child. Lent is 40 days plus 7 Sundays. I do not think that celebrating Saint Valentine's Day just one of those days will teach my kids that Lent is not a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are models, they see what we do and when they are adults, they will follow in our footsteps.

God bless you and your family this Lent.

UPDATED: This was just in my email. It was posted on Holy Heroes:
A priest friend sent us an email about Lenten penitential practices. He said it so well, I thought I should give it to you all to read.
"The Lenten penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are not intended as a covert season of self-improvement, or worse, a time of self-bashing because we are sinners (even though we are), but are instead intended to help create an ever-larger space within our hearts to love. The practices are focused on dying to self so that we are expanded in our capacity to love. We seek deeper conversion and deeper love. By denying ourselves some good, we die to ourselves a little, so that we can grow more in love of God and neighbor. We die to self to grow in love."


Julia said...

I think your friend ending up keeping her decorations up, by the way!!! ;) Thanks for the thoughts you shared in this post!!! :)

Stephanie said...

:) You're a wonderful inspriation and help me grow spiritually, love you!