• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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The season of love meets the season of sacrifice

Old school valentine

Q: “Valentine is with us at such an interesting time as Ash Wednesday kicks off the lenten season of sacrifice.”

It’s instructive that this year’s Valentine’s Day fell on Ash Wednesday. That day, all Catholics recognise that from dust we come and unto dust we return. But love of God and love of man are not mutually exclusive within most religions, so Valentine is with us at such an interesting time as Ash Wednesday kicks off the lenten season of sacrifice. During this Lenten season, adherents are expected to pray more, fast if they can, and do more charity.

Let’s take the requirements one by one.

So pray more, and when Christians look at other religious colleagues and say some people are praying too much, I tell people, well, it is, in fact, everyone’s prerogative and quite personal. But one must also remember the good books, where it says to pray without ceasing. In today’s climate, praying is a waste of time and not worth sacrificing for. But a swig of alcohol and a little red dress slit sky high for a Valentine’s party, and all the unspoken post-valentine consequences are good for making sacrifices.

Please be aware that we are not in church, and we are not moralising here. But y’all know what we are talking about. And to think, before Valentine became a commercial enterprise, it had a deep meaning that was anchored in sacrifice and agape love. Where would a red rose take you? Chocolate and wine, etc. But this is the season of deceit, vulnerability, and unwanted pregnancies. By all means, enjoy yourself, but remember the red flag of a lady ready to use you or a man pretending to be who he is not. At the end of this week, there would be an army of broken hearts enabled by the valentine fever.

But I digress. So, requirement no. 1 is the sacrifice of prayer. The discipline to pray to a higher being and the importance of being consistent throughout the year In fact, the Catholic Church sets out many activities that assist your prayer life. A self-introspective journey is pretty much what lent is all about.

The second requirement for adherents is charity.

How much have you given of your time, of yourself, of your funds, and of your gifts? Last week, I received a call from a relative in the village who only wanted 1,000 naira for food. Five times that amount was sent, and I can still hear the re-echoing of the quantum prayers that came my way and spread towards my children. There are too many people around us whose needs are very meagre compared to what we have.

How many of us are able to run a soup kitchen during this period or feed a family in need? The charity arm of the Catholic Church is called St. Vincent the Paul, and during this lenten period, they share food, clothing, and useful items donated by kind-hearted people. The highlight of this activity for me is the fact that you neither have to be a Catholic nor a Christian to benefit. All humans are equal. That is the biggest lesson.

The final requirement is fasting. This requirement does not have to be food. One can fast from selfishness, wickedness, gossip, lies, and theft, among other things. The belief is that if you stop these vices long enough, you can eventually quit. But if you fast from food, there are many ways you can adapt, as I have found over the years. For the sick and elderly, you can stop at 2 p.m. For the infirm, it is advisable to follow your doctor’s directions.

Read also: The origin of Valentine’s Day

Some sick people cannot fast at all, and this is understandable. But there is also a certain fast food you seem to have no control over and divest yourself from it throughout the lent for self-training your body to be highly disciplined. For me, it is ice cream. For years, when I was young, I could simply eat a whole bowl of ice cream. But I fast from it at lent, and over the years, my cravings after many lenten periods have waned. I can walk past an ice cream shop without flinching or even taking a second look. In the past, it was near impossible. When I lived in England for many years, I indulged in my favourite thing four times a week, twice a day, in the biting snow. Lent is truly about conquering those things you have been trying to conquer for years or fasting from to make you better and more disciplined. More importantly, it is the journey of reconciliation with God, forgiveness, and bettering oneself through the sacrifice of prayer, fasting, and charity.

As we journey through this year, let’s spare a thought for IDPs, widows, widowers, and vulnerable persons all over the country. May this season of love of God and love of man give us the wherewithal to sacrifice so we are much better and polished for gold at the end of the season. Amen