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Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Meaning...Celebrate Love!

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, on February 14 to be precise.  This special day of observance is supposedly rooted (but not endorsed) in Catholic history, but the true history of the birth of Valentine’s Day is not very well known.

Much of the material surrounding this Valentine's Day is pure legendary.

Nowadays, Valentine’s Day, has been so much commercialized and generally associated with red & pink colors, hearts, cupid, expensive splurging of gifts, roses, chocolates, candy, sweet cards for the romantically involved or infatuated...not to mention lots n lots of hugs and kisses...

Valentine's Day is more of a secular observance rather than a Christian celebration event.  It is not the feast day of St Valentine.  It is understood that the Catholic Church has actually removed the memorial of St Valentine's feast since the promulgation of the new Roman liturgical calendar back in the year 1969, although his name remains on the list of saints and martyrs.

Nevertheless, it can still be an opportune time for all of us to take a little break on this journey, to specially remember our gift of love and those whom love is shared with.  Let the world take some time off to celebrate love!  Love, not war!

The name given to this special day is supposedly derived from a Roman Catholic priest, Saint Valentine.  Although the Catholic Church recognizes three different martyred saints named Valentine, the story of one emerges as the likely origin of Valentine's Day sometime back in the 14th century.

Nevertheless, Valentine was a simple holy priest who served in Rome during the short reign of Emperor Claudius II.  He believed that marriage was a holy institution and that two people in love should be able to receive that blessing from God.  Hence, Valentine was the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.

However, the Emperor, who reigned from 268 to 270 A.D., discovered that single men made better soldiers.  The Emperor believed that married men were too emotionally, physically and mentally attached to their wives, and were thus, less apt to be good soldiers in his army.  Therefore, he proceeded to set out to build his army by forbidding young men to marry.

However, Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret until Emperor Claudius found out what was happening and imprisoned the priest.  The Emperor offered Valentine an ultimatum: bow to the Roman pagan gods and stop performing these marriages, or die.

In the process somehow, Emperor Claudius took a liking to this prisoner until Valentine even tried to convert the Emperor.  At this point, the Emperor condemned Valentine to be beaten with clubs and stoned, and later on, beheaded.

According to tradition, while Valentine waited in prison for his execution, he corresponded with those under his care by sending letters and love notes to his parishioners.  During this same time, he fell in love with a girl who visited him during his imprisonment.

Ancient sources have it that this was the blind daughter of the jailer.  Hearing of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World, the jailer, also knowing of Valentine's deep devotion to God, pleaded if the priest would heal his child.

By the grace of God, Valentine miraculously restored the girl's sight.  Valentine was also able to convert both father and daughter to Christianity.

Stories have it that Valentine wrote the girl a note on February 14, 269 A.D., the day he was to be beaten and beheaded, and signed it “From your Valentine”.  Thus, the tradition of sending love letters with the now traditional close was born.

Saint Valentine is the patron Saint of love, young people, happy marriages, engaged couples, bee keepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, lovers, plague and travelers.

More importantly, Valentine’s Day can be an opportune time to remember, ponder and celebrate the gift of love…the many ways God shares His gift of love with us on this pilgrimage through life…and of course our faithful Valentine companion, the Queen of Roses…Blessed Mother Mary.

As we approach this very special day of love and romance, let us not get totally distracted by the hearts, roses, chocolates and love notes - let us also remember to offer this special prayer to Saint Valentine:

“Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,

Giver of Love and Passion,

And He who strings the heart’s cords,

Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.

The day during the month of two,

When the date is the perfect number of God

Greater two souls and two hearts.

Some Loves are fleeting,

But that which is built on you will never fail.

So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.

Your truths the Lovers’ mouths should speak,

For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.

Only this, then, should pass over the red lips of the Lovers.

You art, the Lovers simply a medium.

It is only with True Hearts that You can create a Masterpiece,

So let the Lovers remember that their Soul’s Desire

Is the one for which You light their Fire.

And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;

The art of two into one.”  Amen.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
(Thomas Merton)

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