Valentines Day or Ash Wednesday? Is it reasonable to try to honor both?
One must tread carefully on Ash Wednesday, because what is called up on this day most centered on penance is at once deeply personal and at the very core to our being and identity. We are acknowledging that we can’t go it alone. We recognize our limitedness. Together we will stare into our mortality. We will face the fact that we are broken. We will recall, I hope, with sadness and chagrin how we mistreat each other and the evil that we do. Ash Wednesday is all about sin.
There. I said it. Ash Wednesday is all about sin.
There is nothing cute about it. But it is very necessary.
And if it feels hard or scary to enter into, it’s because the process we are invited into is both. What we are dealing with is both immediate and eternal, a grace that we don’t earn but always learning to live.
I’ve been a huge fan of Canon Gern’s writing for years. By fan, I mean something along the lines of quiet jealousy at how well he writes…
And here he’s making an important point about how we’ll deal with the collision of an essentially secular feast day and a profound and sacred fast day. For those of us in the church world, this is not an uncommon experience – but it’s also not something I think we manage to negotiate terribly well. Look at the conflict over Advent vs Christmas to see a prime example.
Andrew makes the point here that we can proactively choose to transfer a feast and this year that’s probably the best choice. But don’t miss his larger point. There are times when we have to be careful to not let our unwillingness to name our communal discomfort with the sacred vs secular conflict cause us to diminish the value of things of infinite importance.