From Ashes to Roses (and possibly Back Again)

‘The time is out of joint,’ said Hamlet, and we know it. St Valentine in the secular calendar topples SS Cyril and Methodius from their place in the liturgical calendar, and with today’s unconfirmed reports that Oscar Pistorius has accidentally shot dead his girlfriend, the strangeness of this week, which has seen a pope announce his retirement from office, Carnival, and Ash Wednesday, continues.

But is it really so strange? We human beings tend to live life in linear fashion, going from one event to another, forgetting what has gone before unless it was particularly pleasant or unpleasant. Memory and forgetfulness are two sides of the same coin. The past is only as secure as our own or collective memory make it; the future is unknown. We must live in the present, and that surely is what Lent drives home to us. This is the day of salvation, the moment when we must choose good rather than evil; and without being too fanciful, I think we can understand it in terms of a movement from ashes to roses (and possibly back again).

Yesterday we wore ashes as a sign of repentance and the desire for conversion. Today many a rose will be offered as a sign of love and devotion. If our repentance is real, there must be the same rhythm in our own lives, the dynamic of love and forgiveness at work. You may not have anyone to whom you would wish to offer a rose today, but I daresay there is someone to whom you need to say sorry. It may be someone living or someone dead; it is, at any rate, someone you have bound in the chains of unforgiveness and whom you must set free. Saying sorry may be as dust and ashes in your mouth, but it will make something beautiful flower in your heart.


4 thoughts on “From Ashes to Roses (and possibly Back Again)”

  1. Valentines Day is remarkable because of it’s survival, given that it’s about Love and relationships it’s a good thing.

    It’s a pity that it overtakes the Cyril and Methodious feast, but fortunately, our Benefice celebrated them on Tuesday, two days early, but celebrated nevertheless.

    When you hear the story of these two Saints, spreading the Gospel in their native tongue, despite the prevailing culture for Latin, than going to Rome to reconcile and have their work ratified and accepted seems to me to be one, huge leap of faith.

    The outcome was for them to be justified. Sadly, Cyril dying on the Journey home, but Methodius returning as Arch Bishop to his people and continuing his ministry for a further period.

    Saint Valentine is commemorated as a Martyr locally in Italy, but I wonder how the association with Romantic Love origins? If it was for the sacrifice of his life for love of Jesus Christ, I would understand a little, but Romantic Love, while given as a gift by God, seems a strange thing to die for?

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