You are God’s Valentine!

It may appear to be most unfortunate for many young people to celebrate Ash Wednesday today, February 14th, 2018. On this day, popularly known as Valentine’s Day, the world celebrates love. Celebrating Ash Wednesday this day is not just a coincidence, but a reminder of how much God loves his children; how much he loves you. You did not choose him, but he chose you this day to be his Valentine. He puts his mark of love and ownership on you, on your forehead and promises to provide for those who mourn in your {land and family}, to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory (Is. 61:3).

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent in the Catholic Church; it is a season when the Church especially calls her children to a life of sober reflection and repentance. We begin this season by marking our foreheads with ashes; ash from the burnt palm branches of the previous Palm Sunday. The ash reminds us that from dust we were made and to dust shall the body return; it is a call to humility and total submission to God. It is a special make-up to bring out a special kind of beauty in us.

During this season, the Church focuses on the sorrowful Passion of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ to remind all her children what Jesus had to go through to win for us eternal life. It is a season of grace and mercy. The amazing grace and the mercy of God are incontestably powerful, they can transform a sinner into a saint overnight. This is not an exaggeration but a reality that beats our imagination. If not for his amazing grace, where would you and I be today? A wretch like us. As Catholics, therefore and as Christians, we cherish this great opportunity and pray the Holy Spirit to lead us through it to be crowned with the glory of the resurrection at Easter.

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as a pastor in two different parishes, he was a one-time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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