Column – Random thoughts on Love and Lent

Published 6:07 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Ash Wednesday, too. What a coincidence that Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, is also Ash Wednesday, which ushers in the season of Lent for Catholics and other Christian denominations worldwide.

It’s interesting to note and know that there are two purported Valentines on the list of Roman Martyrology for February 14. They both became saints for being martyred because of their faith and healing miracles. One is St. Valentine, a Roman priest and martyr, around AD 270, during emperor Claudius Gothicus Caesar’s rule. He died by decapitation at Via Flaminia in Rome for refusing to follow the emperor’s wishes for conversion to worshipping other gods. Seventy years later, another Valentine, a bishop of Terni (a city of Umbria in Italy, outside of Rome), was imprisoned and martyred (dragged and beheaded) and later on became a saint for his strong faith in God. 

(During the Middle Ages, the Benedictine Order maintained the church of St. Valentine in Terni. Eventually, the Benedictines spread the cult of Valentine’s Day in their monasteries in France and England. 

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According to Vatican News, the tradition of Saint Valentine being the patron saint of lovers finds its origin in an English text by English poet, author (The Canterbury Tales), and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400).

The annual feast of St. Valentine’s Day by the Catholic Church became known traditionally and commercially now as Valentine’s Day, in honor of Saint Valentine, the so-called patron saint of lovers, engaged couples and happy marriages.

We believe love exists when two people (decide to) get married in church or court. There’s love when two people (decide to) get into a legal and binding relationship. Likewise, Love exists when one commits themselves to love, serve, and live for God in various capacities.

When and where there is love in partnerships and relationships, there’s also commitment, There’s also trust and sacrifice, cooperation and compromise, negotiation and mediation. There is hope. There is charity and fraternity, civility and harmony, solidarity and unity. There is peace and order. 

God is Love. And Love is God. He loves us for what and who we are—sinners capable of becoming saints—irrespective of our designation and status in life.

God’s love for us is indicated in John 3:16 of the Holy Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

Because He loves us, Jesus suffered and died on the cross to atone for our sins, only to rise from the dead (his resurrection) on the third day.

Lent is a 40-day liturgical and penitential preparation for Christians to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. It’s a time of prayer, fasting or abstinence, and almsgiving necessary for our spiritual life and conversion, and call to holiness and be closer to God.

On Ash Wednesday, while in church, we, the faithful believers and worshippers of Jesus Christ, hear the pronouncement of a priest or pastor (or a deacon or any designated Church leader).

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at