By Christina I. Hermoso
As Catholics start the observance of the 40-day season of Lent, a Church leader calls on the faithful to “fill Lent with love.”
“Let us move from cheap love to true love. Let us fill Lent with love. Let us fill Valentine’s Day with the Lenten spirit,” said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas in a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post.
For the first time in 73 years, Ash Wednesday coincided with Valentine’s Day yesterday. The last time was in 1945.
Ash Wednesday is an obligatory day of prayer, charity, fasting, and abstinence for Catholics.
Catholics nationwide lined up early in their parishes yesterday to attend the Holy Mass and to have their foreheads marked with a cross.
Love and sacrifice, Villegas noted, go hand in hand.
“Love is best expressed by sacrifice. Love is best shown by suffering with your loved one or suffering instead of your loved one,” the Church leader said.
On Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, which falls on March 30 this year, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59, except those who are ill, are allowed to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together, should not exceed the full meal.
Those who are 14 years old and above are also required to abstain from meat and on all Fridays for the duration of the Lenten Season.
Villegas said fasting requires the faithful to eat less so others can have even just a little.
“The food we do not eat or the meat we abstain from must be given to those who practically fast everyday due to extreme poverty, enduring inhuman hunger. We eat less so the hungry can have more. We enjoy less so those who suffer may receive some comfort,” the former head of the CBCP said.