Ash Wednesday/Valentine Day Coincidence, Good Blending – Bishop Ezeokafor
By Nedum Noble
As Catholic faithfuls join their counterparts across the globe to mark Ash Wednesday tommorow, Nigerians have been enjoined to seize the period to extend love to one another.
The Catholic Bishop of Awka diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor who gave the advice in a chat with newsmen in Awka on Tuesday, described as perfect combination and blessing the coincidence of this year’s celebration with the Valentine day, marked every 14th day of February of the year.
The Prelate explained that Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten season signifies sacrifice, just as Valentine day does, adding that there he season offers Christians opportunity to draw closer to God in prayer, fasting and meditation.
“Some people are worried asking how both can be celebrated same day. But I think it is a matter of understanding.
“For those that understand both events, it is a good blending. As Christ sacrificed his life for mankind, so also St. Valentine sacrificed his life and went to prison,” he said.
He however regretted the misconception and misapplication of Valentine by many Nigerians who view it only from the mundane perspective, noting that it was more of a spiritual exercise.
“Just as the Lenten period offers us opportunity to show genuine agape love by being of help to those who we are better than, Valentine day is also expected to be a time of selfless service.
“Unfortunately, majority have a wrong perception of the day and that is why they practice animalistic kind of love which is purely selfish and ungodly,” he decried.
Bishop Ezeokafor however frowned at those who criticize those who were ready and willing to demonstrate acts of charity through what God had blessed them with, just as he urged the givers not to be deterred by such criticisms.
“As you extend hands of fellowship to your friends, family members and neighbors, don’t worry about those who would criticize you. That alone is enough to discourage you. It is difficult to show love devoid of criticisms,” the cleric added.
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