Saturday, February 14, 2015

St. Valentine?

It's that time of year again, when society dedicates a day to love and tends to focus only on what is materialistic. Personally, I am pretty neutral on all the controversy regarding this day. If you want to do something extra special with your significant other, go for it! If you're single and want to plan an extra fun night with your friends, that's fantastic. If you want to indulge in sweets and be glum in your singleness, that's fine, we've all had those nights at least once. 

I don't think there is anything wrong with nationally dedicating a day to loving others and expressing your love. However, most would agree our culture has pushed this day further and further down a path of secular, superficial love and ungracious expectations. For me, some questions are raised: why not try to love others the best we can every day? Why don't we ask ourselves if we are contributing to the coldness of our society? Are we really loving each person in our lives as we should? Our culture sure does emphasize expressing love on Valentines day, yet fails to give a second glance at all the lack of love shared between people any other day.. When true love is tested.

When reflecting back on my life the past year, I realized just how much I have learned to love more, more deeply, and what true love consists of. 2014 was quite a year of growth for me, and within just the first two months of 2015, I have continued to grow and learn how to better love. Each year St. Valentines day rolls around, I am reminded of what it means to express your love to those around you. Not just once a year, but every day.

What exactly is St. Valentines day about? Valentines Day is on the feast day of St. Valentine, the Patron of love, young people, engaged couples, and happy marriages. The origin and life of St. Valentine is a bit of a mystery, yet what we do know is that he was a Roman priest during the reign and persecution of emperor Claudius. At that time, marrying Christian couples and helping persecuted Christians was forbidden. St. Valentine refused to give up his Christian faith and did not stop performing his duties as a priest. He was imprisoned, beaten with clubs, and became a martyr when he was beheaded on Feb. 14, AD 270. 

St. Valentine loved God more than himself, he was willing to do what was right, even if it meant losing his life. He teaches us that with love comes suffering and sacrifice, you cannot have one without the other. Love means sacrifice, being selfless, and caring about the soul of the one you love. It means wanting what is best for the one you love, and not what you want for yourself. How different this is from what our society and culture see "true love" to be. 

There is nothing wrong with flowers, chocolate, and other gifts our culture encourages to be exchanged on this day, however, do not be fooled into believing that love is defined in this way and these things should be expected on this day. Love gives and is grateful. Love should be expressed in the little things each day in how we treat not only those we love, but everyone we come in contact with. 

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” 
- Bl. Mother Teresa

We all fall short in loving as we should, we all are broken in our own ways, and there are so many unloved and forgotten souls whom we come in contact with in ordinary, daily life. On this feast of St. Valentine, when the misconceptions and materialisticness of romantic love is glamorized, let's not forget the importance of daily, selfless love that God asks us to practice toward all.

"We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others. "
- St. Clare of Assisi

I am blessed with such incredible friends and family who love me more than can be expressed in words here, and I love them all to pieces. You know who you are.

Inspired by cute pun valentines on buzzfeed, I drew my own valentines to give to friends and family this year. Ever since I was little I have always loved making my own cards, so I couldn't resist!

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

St. Valentine, pray for us!

Con amore in Cristo,

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