As Valentine’s Day coincides with Ash Wednesday this year, some may lament the clash between a day of celebration and a day of fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church. However, I see it as a poignant convergence. When we draw nearer to Christ, especially through intentional effort, our relationships with others should naturally flourish. Consider the profound friendships Jesus fostered with his disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and countless others. He listened, spoke truth with love, and cared deeply.

For me, Ash Wednesday serves as a launchpad for spiritual growth, while Valentine’s Day celebrates those we hold dear. I believe the Holy Spirit urges us to unite these two days, using Lent to focus on love and kindness toward those in our lives. (Notice how “LENT” is even embedded in “Valentine”!)

This Lent, I’m committed to loving and serving those the Lord has placed in my life. It’s an opportune time for a heart-to-heart with Jesus, allowing His love to guide us to healthier relationships.

Here are five suggestions, inspired by these books, “The Friendship Project” and “Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart,” to deepen your relationship with Christ and strengthen your connections:

  1. Pray for Your Loved Ones: Move beyond mere greetings and pray for your friends and family. Offer unique prayers for them daily, expressing gratitude and lifting their needs to God.
  2. Practice Acts of Mercy: Let your actions speak love louder than words. Consider serving others in practical ways, both inside and outside your home, demonstrating Christ’s love in action.
  3. Cultivate Humility: Use Lent to examine your heart. Seek to emulate Jesus’ meek and humble heart, letting go of resentments through the Sacrament of Confession and forgiveness.
  4. Mind Your Manners: Show appreciation to loved ones and work on virtues like patience and kindness. Identify vices and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow in virtue.
  5. Celebrate Friendship Friday: Dedicate quality time to those you care about, especially on Fridays. Step away from screens and invest in personal connections, nurturing bonds of friendship.

Remember to “offer it up to Jesus,” by dedicating your Lenten sacrifices to unite in the Suffering of the Lord. May this Lent be a season of growth in faith and love, with Valentine’s Day marking the beginning of a fruitful journey.

P.S. I’m thrilled to be part of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference next week, where thousands of women will encounter Jesus and foster fellowship. It’s an opportunity to put into practice what I share today!


Emily J