Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, and to many that doesn't mean anything. To some of us, Valentines Day may seem insignificant because we don't have a partner to share the day with. Some of us ignore the day because we think we should appreciate our partner year around, not just one day. For whatever reason, Valentine's Day has lost it's way with several of us. Maybe we should concentrate more about the origin of the day rather than on what the day has come to symbolize.

The story about St. Valentine differs depending on which historian you hear, but they can all agree that St. Valentine existed. Most believe that he was a priest in Rome sometime around year 270. Christians were being persecuted during the reign of Claudius. St. Valentine put his life on the line in order marry Christian couples. He was caught and soon after sentenced to death. In year 496, Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom. The date was chosen in part to become a substitute for the heathen practice boys and girls were accustomed to on the 15th of the same month. In that way it is very similar to Halloween.

St. Valentine was not the only priest during that time to die in defense of his Christian faith. In fact it is believed that there were several St. Valentines. Most of our major holiday's here in the United States revolve around our Christian heritage, and we must make sure we always keep that in mind. In this time where it is norm to De-Christianize everything in the public eye, we must work even harder to make sure that our Christian faith becomes the forefront of our thoughts and works. Valentine's day is more than just about candies and flowers, although you beautiful ladies are very deserving of those treats. Instead of looking at this day in disdain, try to appreciate it for what it was to those early Christians.

St. Valentine, like all the saints and good Christian leaders gone before us, teaches us a valuable lesson. Our faith is not something that can be compromised. Our faith will be challenged and we will be tempted to fall into the norm of the day but we must never lose our faith. St. Valentine is especially special to me during this time because he is the patron saint of love, young people, and happy marriages. I think I fit in two of those categories, and in a couple months I'll fit in all three. He saw the love these young Christians had for one another and risked his own life so that they might be one in marriage. That takes tremendous courage. He understood the value of marriage between a man and a woman. Even that basic principle is being challenged today. It is but one of the several fights we as Christians face in the present day. Every generation is faced with challenges. We will all experience times when our faith will be challenged. Our views and values may not always be the most popular, but God's way is always the right way. God made man and woman. Jesus came down from heaven to show us how to live our life on this earth so that we might reach heaven.

Express your love on this day even if you think you do every day. Even if you do not have a partner at this stage in your life, you are loved. Know that God has a plan for you and for us all. Ask God to give us the strength and courage of St. Valentine, who ministered to young Christian couples in time of persecution. Ask God to bless your relationships and to help your relationships grow in unconditional love. We must love regardless of whether or not we are loved in return. Jesus has shown us how to love. Let us follow his lead.

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