Happy Valentine’s Day! That greeting will be repeated many times today verbally and through cards, chocolate, flowers and other creative means that probably will cost Americans nearly $20 billion dollars!
What am I saying when I ask someone to “be my Valentine?” According to reference.com, “the phrase, ‘Will you be my valentine?’ does not symbolize asking someone to be in a steady commitment but means asking them to be a special friend for the day. This is why it is a tradition to give Valentine’s Day cards to classmates and friends in school. Exchanging these gifts is not a symbol of furthering a relationship but the agreement to shower each other with gifts for that day.”
That sounds pretty superficial and a sure gimmick to make some money for retailers! What often goes unnoticed is that today is actually the Feast of St. Valentine. Who was St. Valentine?
From the website catholiccompany.com we find a brief description of St. Valentine:
St. Valentine of Rome (c. 270) was a priest who lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Little is known of his life with certainty, except that he ministered to Christians who were persecuted and imprisoned for their faith, and died a martyr. One account has it that the emperor banned all marriages and engagements in Rome, believing this was the reason Roman men were unwilling to serve in the army. Valentine defied this unjust decree and continued to perform marriages for lovers in secret. He was arrested, and while in prison he restored sight to his jailer’s blind daughter, causing the jailer and his entire extended household, forty-six people in total, to immediately convert to Christianity. Upon hearing this, Claudius ordered Valentine’s execution. St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended, and signed it “From Your Valentine.” He was beheaded on February 14th. St. Valentine is the patron of many causes including bee keepers, betrothed and engaged couples, lovers, love, happy marriages, and young people. His feast day is February 14th.
I salute every opportunity to express love and friendship and it certainly should not be limited to just one day a year. It is fitting though to take this day, St. Valentine’s Day, to deepen our commitment to love the significant person in our life. That’s something that St. Valentine understood when he defied the Emperor Claudius’ decree. He knew that the love between spouses and those aspiring to marry is God’s best way of demonstrating how deep is God’s sacrificial love for us.
On this day the prayer of St. Valentine challenges and encourages me:
Teach us to love unselfishly and to find great joy in giving. Enable all true lovers to bring out the best in each other. Let them love each other in God in God in each other.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day! And most especially to my dearest Charlotte! I love you!