A prelate on Monday called on the faithful to have a “meaningful date with God,” as Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday both fall on Feb. 14 this year.
“It is a nice day to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Why? Because it is a day of prayer, it is a day of penance, that we are trying to mix, (with) it is a day of love,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) assistant secretary general Fr. Bryand Restituto said in an interview.
Restituto said the faithful must remember God’s love, who offered his only son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of the world.
“It’s a day of penance, charity, abstinence (as we) start to remember, in preparation for the passion and death and resurrection of Christ, that the whole Lenten Season is the celebration of love,” he said.
“That is why I said in a recent mass I celebrated that ‘I am sorry but the best date that we could have on that day, is a date with the Lord,’ that is how it should be,” Restituto added.
Aside from observing fasting and abstinence, he asked the people to hear Mass and have their forehead daubed with ashes on Wednesday.
Restituto, however, said the faithful can also choose to celebrate these occasions separately.
“Some would want to make Ash Wednesday, as a day of penance, a day of forgiveness and mercy. They could schedule the celebration of Valentine’s Day with their families and loved ones the next day,” he said.
He also said love should be celebrated every day and not only during Valentine’s Day.
Meanwhile, a recent Church-based survey revealed that a little over half of the faithful in the country are able to fulfill their spiritual obligation of going to confession at least once a year.
The Veritas Truth Survey (VTS) said only 51 percent of the Catholic Filipinos go to the sacrament of confession at least once a year.
Majority of the 1,200 respondents responded ‘yes’ to the survey question “Do you fulfill your spiritual obligation of going to confession at least once a year”, 17 percent said “no”, and 32 percent answered “sometimes”.
“As such only about five out of 10 Filipinos after having reached the age of discretion have fulfilled his/her obligation to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year pursuant to Canon Law 989,” it said.
The survey was conducted from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9, in connection with the coming observance of Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day Lenten season. (PNA)