Monday, 14 February 2011

St Valentine

I still tend to think that our modern celebration of "Valentine's Day" (sic) all too often comes across as a commercial conspiracy involving  among others florists, restaurateurs and greetings card manufacturers. Nothing these days is free from the corrosive effect of commercialism, which tends to kill, or at least alter out of all recognition, everything it touches.
The problem with today's approach to "romance" (the accent, of course, has to be on the first syllable) is that it can all too easily begin and end with the other person being regarded merely as an extension of our own selfish wishes and desires, rather than someone of infinite value made in the image and likeness of God.
Still, to the extent that we can distance ourselves from that, St Valentine's Day probably does no harm and, if it can also remind us that human love in this cynical, self-obsessed age can still be possible and enduring, it does positive good.

St Valentine himself? This is from his entry at CatholicOnlines's Saint of the Day [here]

"The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.....
.........Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine." 
St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses."

I particularly like the sentence, "Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede."

"If we are without human feelings we cannot love God in the way in which we are meant to love Him - as men. If we do not respond to human affection we cannot be loved by God in the way in which He has willed to love us - with the Heart of the Man, Jesus Who is God, the Son of God, and the anointed Christ."
Thomas Merton: Thoughts in Solitude.

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