The month of February in the Catholic Church is dedicated to the Holy Family: Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Throughout scripture, the Holy Family sets for us the perfect example of putting God first, of loving God.
Mary says yes to God before even knowing the details of God’s request. (Luke 1:26-38)
Joseph obeys the instructions of the Angel of God without hesitation. (Matthew 1: 18-25)
Jesus constantly gives of himself through his teachings, healings and then ultimately through the sacrifice of his own life. (As we journey through Lent and get ready for Holy Week, we’ll be learning more about Jesus Christ and his passion)
Although Mary, Joseph and Jesus are amazing individuals of faith and fortitude, each of them required God’s assistance and each other to be remembered as such.
Another example of someone who worked to put God’s love before all else, St. Valentine, believed in the power of love so completely that he died for his faith in the third century. St. Valentine’s Day, like each time we gather for Mass, is a celebration of the love we share for each other and for God. Here are some great ways to honor our Catholic traditions and this festive holiday at home.
This year, St. Valentine’s Day falls on the Sunday of President’s Day weekend and just a few days before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
During the 40 days of Lent, we are called to focus on how seriously Jesus listened to the call of God. The 40 days we set aside for Lent are meant to mirror the time Jesus secluded himself in the desert to prepare for his public ministry. Jesus spent those days in prayer asking God for guidance and strength. He was tempted by the devil, offered power and glory if he just turned his back on God. Instead, he rebuffed the devil and was ministered to by angels. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Our own Lenten experience need not be so extreme and yet, sometimes life can be overwhelming and seem as dire as Jesus’ own time of trial. For these very reasons, the Church offers each of us many ways of staying focused during this solemn time of the year. The sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of healing that benefits the individual spirit and collective Church as well, is more readily available to the public. The Stations of the Cross are recited each Friday to help us become accustomed to the unfair strife Jesus endured out of love for us. Opportunities for service are also planned to remind us that our ability to make a difference, no matter how small, must not be taken for granted.
God does not expect us to be perfect, if he did, the gift of free will would have been given in folly. God does expect us, however, that we use our gifts to help build up each other and the Kingdom of God. Setting a Lenten goal for ourselves and as a family may help us grow closer to God and each other.
Though we are open for public worship, we know that we’ll still be limited in gathering this year and that many among us are still vulnerable and not able to join us in person at this time. If you are interested in more ways to connect with Lent at home this year, follow the link.
And, while Easter doesn’t carry the same social obligations as say Christmas, we know that this time of year when Winter seems to hang endlessly on can be stressful. And, potentially, even more so this year given the duration of the global pandemic we continue to face. If you or someone you love feels overwhelmed, please reach out for help! Our clergy can offer a sympathetic ear and spiritual advice, and also here are some national resources that might be of assistance.
Remember, we are not able to love and care for others until we are able to properly love and care for ourselves. “To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” (Proverbs 19:8)