Episcopal News Service
February 14, 2018
[Episcopal News Service] Ashes smeared on a forehead in the shape of a heart? Candy conversation hearts that proclaim, “Remember U R Dust?” Apparently, that’s what might happen when Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day.
How to manage this clash of calendar? Lean into it or lean away from what priestly blogger called “the precipice of the cute”? Find a way to connect romantic love and God’s love of creation? Find something in between?
First, how did Hallmark get pitted against holy this year? It’s by the coincidence of the secular calendar and the Christian church’s calculation of the date of Easter. And this year is a rare occasion. It last happened in 1945 (preceded by 1934 and 1923) and will happen again in 2029.
Here’s how it works: Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Lent is 40 days (to mirror the 40 days Jesus is said to have fasted in the wilderness) plus the six Sundays surrounding those days. Thus, Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, is 46 days before Easter Sunday.
By all that is mathematical and calendrical this year that means Ash Wednesday is Feb. 14, that day known for celebrating romantic love with hearts and flowers and chocolates, the go-to substance that some people to give up for Lent.
This year Lent is bookended by the convergence of secular and religious holidays. Easter falls on April 1, April Fool’s Day. (For those thinking ahead, or looking behind, and calculating, note that when Easter falls on April 1 in leap years, Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 15.)
While we are plumbing the depths of ancient church formulas, there is more history to consider. St. Valentine, a third-century bishop in Rome, is believed to have been martyred on Feb. 14. The rest of his story is so dim that ecclesiastical commemoration of him vary. He is not part of the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints, but his martyrdom is remembered on Feb. 14 by members of the Church of England and by Lutherans. The Roman Catholic Church removed him from its calendar in 1969. Roman Catholics and Episcopalians mark Feb. 14 by honoring the monk known as Cyril and his brother, the bishop Methodius, for their conversion of Slavic people of Eastern Europe in the ninth century.
Geoffrey Chaucer is believed to have connected St. Valentine with romantic love in the Middle Ages. His poem, The Parlement of Foules, is thought to commemorate a royal marriage in 1382 by describing a conference of birds that meet to choose their mates on St. Valentine’s Day.
That’s how we got here. Now, what to do?
Among those who have leaned into the coincidence, at least early on, was Trinity Church, Copley Square in Boston. On Feb.1 its Facebook page offered seven “Valentines” that mashed up the two days. The post invited people who “might need to explain to your special someone why you’re spending the day in fasting and penitence rather than on a date” to share them.
Anglican News Service
February 05, 2018
Anglicans around the world are being asked to pray for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo as tribal violence continues to claim lives in the Ituri Province in the north-eastern area of the country. The Ituri city of Bunia is home to one of the largest UN peacekeeping forces in Africa as international troops seek to intercede between the warring Lendu and Hema peoples. At the weekend, 26 people were killed when a Hema village 31 miles (50 km) north of Bunia was attacked by Lendu tribes people. The Revd Bisoke Balikenga, national youth co-ordinator of Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo – the Anglican Church of Congo – is urging Anglicans to pray for the country.
In 2016, the church established a peace centre in Bunia as part of its care for women and girls who have been raped by combatants. Bisoke, who is helping to run the centre, responded to the weekend’s violence by asking people to pray. He said that 200 houses in the Hema village were burned before residents were killed by machete, creating “a lot of trauma among the Hema.”
He said that some shops and petrol stations in Bunia had been closed and that there are “some young people who like to make chaos”. The state governor is leading a delegation to the affected area to see what is happening. “Please pray for him in order he can bring peace there in that place,” Bisoke said.
“Please pray. Please, we need your prayers,” he said.
In December, 15 UN peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed and a further 43 injured in an attack on their base in Beni, around 90 miles south of Bunia. It was the worst attack on UN peacekeepers since an attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, claimed the lives of 23 troops in 1993.The UN operations in DRC are being carried out by MONUSCO – the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.