A reflection on the logo for Lent is for Lovers from the illustrator who designed it.
When we’re young, we get easily embarrassed by anything too romantic. We blushingly refrain from holding hands, admissions of affection, and more. But as we grow older, we learn that being willing to embarrass ourselves a little for the sake of a lover is key to a happy and successful relationship. We stop caring as much about the possibility that a stranger might think us “uncool” for, say, smooching in public, because this vague threat pales in comparison to the affection we feel for a beloved.
It is with this very same spirit – a willingness to risk unflinching awkwardness in the name of unfailing love – that the Church begins the season of Lent. After all, how many times have we felt self-conscious about parading around wearing ashes on our foreheads? How many times have we taken this annual 40-day period to bring upon ourselves those comparatively mild but wholly voluntary discomforts we call “penances”? We don’t do these things because we get any particular kick out of them – no. We do them for the same reason we risk embarrassment for earthly romance: we’ve chosen to love someone else more than we love our own carefully curated sense of coolness.
How fitting, then, that Ash Wednesday this year falls on Saint Valentine’s Day. For although ashes and sackcloth might seem a strange pairing to roses and lace, the coinciding of the two dates gives us a beautiful chance to reflect. Are we going through the motions of Lent as one would the forced romance of a stale relationship, or are we embracing with sincerity each opportunity for awkward, uncomfortable professions of love, not to just any old Valentine, but to Him whom the Scriptures call our Heavenly Bridegroom?
It was this question that guided me as I designed the logo for our “Lent is for Lovers” initiative. At first glance, we see a classic Valentine; the sort a child might risk his reputation in order to give to his crush. But on closer inspection, we see in the black lace every step of the Stations of the Cross. A jarring juxtaposition, but perhaps more thematically similar than we might immediately assume. It was a moving experience to design the image, and it is my sincere hope that it might serve as a source of inspiration during this Lenten season.
With prayers for an awkward, embarrassing, and deeply loving Lent,
Popčak is an illustrator and graphic designer as well as the former co-host of Sacred Heart Radio’s ‘The Son Rise Morning Show.’ Jacob can be contacted for speaking engagements or freelance art and design through his website, jacobpopcak.com