How can you celebrate Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday?

Family matters
Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

If you are married, your usual celebration of Valentine’s Day consisting of a steak dinner with wine and desserts or maybe even a box of chocolates will not go well on a day of fast and abstinence. DON’T WORRY; I have a suggestion.

Bring your beloved husband or wife to the Church of the Ascension on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. to be a part of the annual World Marriage Day celebration. Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, and Bishop James V. Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will be the homilist.

The idea of an annual celebration of marriage began in 1981 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That year, the mayor, the governor and the bishop together proclaimed St. Valentine’s Day as “We Believe in Marriage Day.”

The idea was so successful that the Worldwide Marriage Encounter leadership adopted the concept proposing an annual celebration of “World Marriage Day” on the second Sunday of the month of February. By 1982, 43 state governors adopted this yearly celebration.

In 1993, St. John Paul II imparted his apostolic blessing on World Marriage Day. Since that time, this celebration has continued to grow and spread to more countries and faith expressions.

What does this Mass and celebration offer to you? First, it is a time to remember; you will have the opportunity to renew publicly the commitment you made to each other on your wedding day — whether one year or 60 years ago.

You will be able to, once again, turn toward one another, hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes and recall and remember the feelings you experienced on your wedding day.

You will renew your commitment in the midst of many other married couples, surrounded, as St. Paul would say, “by such a great cloud of witnesses.” It helps all to see that we are not alone as we strive to live out this lifestyle of self-giving love each day. We support one another.

You will celebrate in a way so superior to any dinner or other Valentine’s Day remembrance: You will celebrate in the presence of Jesus in the word and in his most precious body and blood.

Once again, you will receive a blessing calling down God’s graces to support you in your life’s work to get one another and your children to heaven.

Lastly, you, by your witness, will help the world to believe that marriage is a joy-filled way of life. Young people today wonder if such a way of life is possible. Some wonder, “Why even get married?” They need your witness.

Recently, one couple married 59 years, proclaimed, with tears: “We are a sacrament!” They suddenly became aware of their importance.

Come, celebrate your sacrament.

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