Ash Valentine’s Day

Wednesday was a mixed-bag.  I joked with a colleague that the ashes on my forehead felt apropos for a vowed celibate on Valentine’s Day.   But the day held the truth of paradox on a much deeper level.  
I awoke to the distribution of ashes and a special morning prayer with my community—a wonderful way to begin the day in holy communion.  Later, I got to visit with Congresswomen Maloney (CA) and Jayapal (WA) along with Sr. Simone Campbell to thank them for their service and for scoring 100% on NETWORK’s Voting Record.  Both women—testaments to the strength of love-in-action—inspire and demonstrate the “good” that can manifest on the Hill.  
Then the news broke about another mass shooting at a school in Florida—17 students killed—and the grieving set-in.  A reminder that evil is also manifested on the Hill in the form of harmful policies, blame, greed, and vitriol.  
I’ve never felt more in need of “sackcloth-and-ashes” than I do heading into Lent this year.  Has mass repentance ever been necessary like in these fraught times?  It doesn’t feel like it…  And Valentine’s Day—a reminder of the beauty and prevalence of love in our world—seems especially worthy of observance in light of the deep divides resisting love’s grace.
Quincy Howard OP                                                                                                                Washington, D.C.

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