HAPPY coincidence! This is how Father Mickey Cardenas titled his second reflection during our ladies recollection last February 3. He was referring to Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent, falling on February 14, or coinciding with Valentine’s Day. Why is it serendipitous?
Serendipity means a “fortunate or happy coincidence.” We all know that Valentine’s Day is also called the Day of Hearts or Lovers Day. We receive greetings of Happy Hearts Day, aside from Happy Valentine’s Day.
Most lovers all over the world celebrate and go on dates, this most special day. For many business establishments, like restaurants, hotels/motels, flower shops and chocolate stores, February 14 is one of the most profitable days of the year. After all, as the saying goes, “love is what makes the world go round!”
The problem is, like Father Cardenas said, many people misuse “Love” and its true essence. It is becoming like “fake news,” which inundate the world today. Lies. Lies and more lies. The more expensive your gift is, the more you can prove your love. A dozen roses? A big box of chocolates? A 2-karat ring? A weekend by the beach? The world tells the young people, “Prove your love! Buy more! Spend more!”
What a happy coincidence that this coming Wednesday, on Valentine’s Day, we, Catholics will be going to church to celebrate the beginning of Lent. We will have the sign of the cross adorning our foreheads to remind us once again to repent and believe in the Gospel. In other words, we are being reminded of what and who True Love really is.
Father Cardenas further shared that, “True Love can only be found in God, who created us out of love.” It was because of this love that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save us. This is the love that Jesus models for us to follow. Agape love. The giving of oneself, or sacrificial love.
We are called to love, like Jesus loved. Let us learn from God’s unconditional, faithful, sacrificial and everlasting love.
My dearest fortunate lovers,
Valentine’s Day is drawing nearer. Whether you are a Catholic, serendipitously celebrating it on Ash Wednesday (remember, it’s a day of fasting and abstinence) or not, I believe that God’s message is the same for you and me. We are called to love the way He loved. Jesus says in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
How did Jesus love? Jesus suffered and died on the cross out of love of us, to save us from our sins. And how do we show this kind of love?
I agree with Father that we are called to show this love for God and others through our ordinary daily lives. We don't have to do anything big and fancy. We don’t need to buy the most expensive gifts, as if to buy the other’s affection. We are not even being asked to lay down our lives like Jesus did. But we can die to ourselves that others may live. We can die to our pride and selfishness and make our lives a living sacrifice.
We can show our love through the simplest things - by just being considerate of other’s feelings. By valuing their time. By being patient and understanding. By taming our tongues. By a word of encouragement. By saying “Please, thank you, I’m sorry,” with sincerity. By a simple smile.
Indeed, let us do all our responsibilities at home and at work, out of love. Let us strive to become more and more like Christ who is love incarnate.
As we enter the Season of Lent this Valentine’s Day, may we realize more and more how much God loves us. May we reciprocate this love and grow deeper in love with Him.
I now look forward to first Saturdays of the month. Since the first Saturday of December last year, I have been attending the monthly ladies recollection at the little chapel on Tepeyac Hill. Thanks to Henry and Lucy Tuazon who have been graciously providing the venue for around 15-20 ladies who attend.
The monthly recollection is usually led by an Opus Dei member who comes from Manila, together with Fr. Mickey Cardenas, who himself is an Opus Dei priest. I believe that the recollections are open to all ladies who are interested in growing deeper in their faith and wish to learn from the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva on how to find God in our daily lives.