St Valentine Reflection
Valentine’s Day is almost here, and generally speaking, most of us fall into one of these categories:
1. We embrace this day because we see it as a day for doting on the one we love, whether it be a new or old love.
2. We dread the day because our insecurity about being single and not having a person of love interest in our lives, is exposed.
3. We see this day as a highly commercialised day where people pay way too much on unnecessary tokens and overpriced roses and choose not to participate.
Let’s stop just for a minute and look at a bigger picture. Let us not overthink which of those groups we fall under and instead take a trip back in time to Rome at the time of the Great Persecution. Claudius, the emperor at the time, passed a law which forced men to join the Roman army, thus prohibiting marriage, so that their focus would be on fighting recklessly for the State and not on getting back home to their wives.
You can imagine the disapproval of not only the Christians, but especially of those romantically engaged. Engagements and marriage ceremonies were forbidden, effectively prohibiting one of the seven Sacraments. This law was a direct attack on love and family life.
So, who was St. Valentine and what did he do?
Valentine was a Roman priest who was especially disheartened by this decree. In opposition, he performed the Sacrament of marriage for couples in secret. He was eventually caught, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. While in prison he befriended the jailer’s daughter, who was blind. He miraculously healed her of her blindness and, as a result, the daughter, the jailer, and his whole family converted to the Christian faith. The night before his execution, Valentine sent a letter of encouragement and farewell to the girl signing it, “From your Valentine”.
The next day he was brutally beaten, stoned, and finally beheaded for his support of true love and marriage.
Crazy stuff! Can you imagine the kind of love that burned within Valentine’s heart? Although he knew of the consequences of marrying couples against the law, he also knew it was right and was brave enough to stand up for what he believed. Despite the fact that he was about to die, he showed the love of God by healing and bringing the Faith to a family he barely knew. He put aside all his fears and doubts and took a stand for love!
This is what Valentine’s Day is all about – sacrificial love. We may have someone special in our life in a romantic way right now or maybe we don’t, but the Lord and author of love is always near to us – showering us with His love and waiting patiently to be loved by us! Our God is a true and faithful lover!
This is the love we celebrate on Valentine’s Day. Romantically, whatever our situation, the Lord and lover of our souls longs to hear us say that we love Him! Forget about what the world says this day should be about: the expensive dates and flowers; overly-sexualised relationships; and instead remember the love that led Jesus Christ to the Cross to die because he would rather die than live without us. This is not to say we shouldn’t show our love and appreciation to those we love.
St Valentine shows us through his martyrdom that real love is about sacrifice, and that believing in true love is hard. The world tells us to settle for things less than love but true love is worth fighting for! May we fight, as St Valentine did so many years ago, for a life of true, authentic love. No settling for less. Let us embrace the love that our Lord constantly and freely gives to us, and may we in return, for all He has done for us, love Him back with the love of Christ who, like Valentine, offered His life for love.