The beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, falls on St Valentine’s Day this year, 14th February. This may appear at first to be an unfortunate coincidence. How can romantic love be possibly celebrated on this solemn day when we are to be most penitent? With difficulty, certainly.
But my sense is that life is rarely straightforward and that in our lives there is often a whole mixture of things going on and that sometimes too we will feel a lot of rather contradictory emotions about something all at the same time.
One way of dealing with 14th February this year could be to pay attention to Ash Wednesday in the morning (perhaps by coming to church) and celebrating with your loved one in the evening. This would undoubtedly be the easiest thing.
But perhaps more creative and spiritual would be to hold in tension loving, and penitence (needing forgiveness). In many places in the Bible it is said that marriage is the most Godly expression of love available to humankind. And part of loving is to forgive each other and to be forgiven. Both love and forgiveness are of God.
For some this will be about dealing with memory, for others it is something for the here and now.
May I wish you a happy St Valentine’s Day and holy Ash Wednesday.
Helmsley Parish in the Diocese of York
Helmsley's parish church, dedicated to All Saints, dates back a thousand years and more. The present building , built on Norman foundations, was dedicated in 1838. Helmsley Parish also includes Anglican churches at East Moors, Rievaulx and Sproxton.
On Sundays in Helmsley there are two well-attended services and a regular midweek Holy Communion. Locals and visitors alike, of all traditions, are always very welcome to all our services. After Sunday's main 9.30 am service at Helmsley there is an opportunity to meet one another over refreshments.
Helmsley Church is open every day as a place of interest and for private prayer from 9am - 5pm (summer) and 9am - 4pm (winter). St Columba's Chapel, in the south transept, has votive candles to aid people's own particular prayers.
A Christian church has existed in Helmsley since AD 200, according to the 19th century wall-paintings in the north aisle. Certainly there was one on this site by the time of the Norman Conquest. (There's a 10th century hog-back tombstone in the porch and an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086.) The present building's splendid chancel arch, one of the largest in Yorkshire, dates from the 12th century (as does its counterpart over the entrance). Otherwise the handsome present day building is largely the result of major restoration in Victorian times, with the stained glass as well as the murals from this period too. All this variety of history and interest makes Helmsley Church a very special place to visit and worship in. More information about our other churches is elsewhere on the website.
Tim Robinson, our vicar, says: "I love being vicar here. Helmsley is a great community and I aim to serve everyone here be they part of the Church or not. Members of the congregation and I work with other community organisations for the common good. We have a special relationship with Helmsley in Business. Recently I accompanied the Archbishop of York (on his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing around the Diocese) to celebrate Helmsley's win as best Market Town in the Great British High Street competition at the The Feathers Hotel before he answered questions at an event called 'What's on your Mind' at Helmsley Church.
"We are delighted you have taken the trouble to look at our website. We hope you will come and visit us soon."