Happy Valentine’s Day!
Have you ever asked yourself why the memorial of Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, is linked to the feast of lovers? I did some research, and asked Mister Google. According to one source, the date of February 14 might have ties to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a spring festival celebrated each year on February 15. The holiday was moved to February 14 after the spread of Christianity. The Christian faith had several martyrs called Valentine and each of them was celebrated on February 14. But the history of Valentine’s Day, its association with February 14, and its romantic sentiments do not end there. In the Middle Ages, people believed birds selected their mates on February 14!
In the Philippines, there is the custom to wish to every one a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” even to priests and religious women, something I never experienced in France! And indeed, we too, have our “Valentine”! I chose to embrace mine (Jesus) forever 5 years ago, on February 14th, 2016. This coincidence of dates didn’t pass unnoticed for my family and friends. One cousin of mine said to me: “On the day when the world celebrates love, you choose to celebrate “Love” (with a capital “L”)”. True! By our religious vows, we want to show to the world that only one Love can fulfill man’s heart, Jesus Christ. We want to anticipate the union with God that every person is called to experience one day in Heaven. This is what we are created for! Today, I want to share with you my joy of being totally given to Love, for “God is Love” (1 John 1:4). This is the great challenge of my life. In fact, God is the One who will do all this in me and bring my offering to its fulfillment.
So, let me ask you again: what is the link between the martyrdom of Saint Valentine and Love? Is it not the witness of his entire life to Love? The word “witness” comes from the greek “martyria” which is where we get our word “martyr”. When a person makes of her life a self-gift of love to another person, this person bears witness to the world to the original plan of God for man and woman: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). When I give my life to God, I bear witness to the world that life does not end with death because Jesus has conquered it on the cross and that “His Love endures forever!” (Psalm 135).
But Mister Google won’t tell you this!
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
God bless you all!
Sr. Vianney is an Apostolic Sister of Saint John, and the spiritual guide of Pure Heart Philippines.