Today, we will see lots of red hearts and ash crosses on foreheads. Valentine’s Day is a great day for florists, restaurants, jewelers and candy makers. Today is also Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. On this day we are invited to give freely of cards, candy, jewels, etc. in order to express our love to another. We also begin to engage in spiritual disciplines as an expression of love for Jesus.

I remember many years ago that our children were in a school system that allowed florists to deliver items to students in classrooms on Valentine’s Day. You should have seen how many balloons and stuffed animals filled cars and buses at the end of the day. I guess we were bad parents, because we did not send balloons or stuffed animals to our children at school.  What we did notice over the next two or three years that it became a contest to see which children would get the most balloons and stuffed animals. Thankfully, the school ended the practice because it just disrupted the whole day. It is so easy to equate stuff with love.

This is a day that many will renounce eating chocolates and eating out as a spiritual discipline. What a confusing day of emotions for us all.  We give out of love and deny out of love. We acquire more and let go of more. What a perfect way to begin discerning the place of money and stuff in our life of faith.