I am a volunteer Religious Education teacher at our parish. This year, I have the privilege of teaching 22 kids who are in the second year of a two-year Confirmation program, with the sacrament happening in mid-May. We meet every Sunday for 90 minutes. The Director of Religious Education has us follow a workbook, and each week has a chapter with a theme for us to focus on. To spice up the class, I pick a “Saint of the Day” for each class. The Saint has something to do with the daily theme, and perhaps has a life experience that the kids can identify with, and they may also be inspired to pick one of these Saints as their Confirmation “Saint Name”. As Divine Providence would have it, the session for Sunday, February 13 has the topic of Love. Today happens to be St. Valentine’s Day. So it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure out that I will have St. Valentine for the Saint of the Day for class.
There are many St. Valentines, but the one most likely linked to our present-day holiday is the Roman version of St. Valentine. He lived about 1600 years ago, and in his later years, the entire region suffered under a lunatic Emperor, as often happened. This particular Emperor made it illegal to get married. The reasons were three-fold. He was a “god,” so what he said was the law. Secondly is that it would promote promiscuity, and that would theoretically make people happy and content, because they could do what they wanted to do. Lastly, the Roman Legions were in need of troops, and married men were able to avoid military service. By outlawing marriage, the Emperor could thus have more soldiers.
Valentine, as a Catholic priest, was not in favor of this decree, for a myriad of reasons. He would marry couples secretly, to help preserve the sanctity of marriage, and to keep his flock from being sent out as foot soldiers for conquest after conquest to foreign lands. He loved his flock, he loved the Lord, he loved the scripture and tradition of the church, and he was willing to lay down his life for others, which is one of the strongest forms of love, as John describes in Chapter 15 of his gospel.
The authorities were not pleased. Just like in today’s world, Catholics who stand up to the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, which goes against the desires and edicts of the ruling class, get in big trouble. Valentine was eventually caught, and after performing a miracle or two while on “death row,” he had his head cut off on February 14th. As the title of the reflection describes, he gave more than a card on the first Valentine’s Day. We are more civil today, as chocolate, cards, stuffed animals, and flowers are used to celebrate the day.
The first reading of today, from James, had a line that helped me link my thoughts together. “For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.” Valentine had no doubt about his love for his flock and had no doubt about protecting the sanctity of marriage. Love in the form of marriage goes back in history for most of eternity, and is the glue that holds all societies together. He did not allow himself to be tossed about like a wave in the wind; he stood firm and took the consequences. Those marriages he performed extended into the future well beyond Valentine’s time on Earth.
Not everyone married, but I think we can all identify with the value and tradition of marriage, and for standing up for what we think is right. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today with the ones we love, remember those who came before us, as well. Remember Jesus’ love for us, and the sacrifices he made for us. Remember St. Valentine, and his sacrifice.
Last but not least, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Please pray For me today my girlfriend Kimberly is cured of her illness by the doctors in the hospital right now. Respond to my Hotmail and Gmail messages come onto messaging. Also please pray for me my mom stops talking to me right now and no longer comes in my room and that she stops saying my name and no longer makes me anything to eat stop telling me where she’s going. No longer call me on my cellphone.