Faithfully yours - Make everyday Valentine's Day


By Neil Strohschein

The Neepawa Banner

Store owners, florists and candy suppliers beware! Your stock is about to dwindle to nothing. St. Valentine’s Day is coming and from late afternoon Feb. 13 through noon Feb. 14, procrastinators from every corner of our community (mostly male) will be coming your way looking for cards, flowers and candy for those they love.

From a retail perspective, St. Valentine’s Day is the second most popular day on the calendar. In the United States alone, 1 billion cards will be exchanged, $1 billion worth of chocolate (much of it in one of 35 million beautiful red heart-shaped boxes that will be shared) and 189 million stems of roses will be purchased. Two hundred twenty thousand wedding proposals will happen on this day. Hopefully those proposing will get the answer they are looking for—“Yes!!”

Similar activities and expenditures will happen in most other countries of the world. Valentine’s Day is a day everyone celebrates. It’s about the only universal holiday we have.

But—if you are one of the growing number of people who may not receive a Valentine’s card, may not find a dozen roses waiting for you at work or have to buy your own candy—don’t despair. You can celebrate Singles Awareness Day, which just happens to fall on Feb. 14 and which allows singles to speak openly about the joys and challenges of being unattached.

Given all the fuss that surrounds his day, you would think that St. Valentine has to be among the top 10 best known and most influential leaders in church history. Well, think again. The saint for whom the day is named is a saint about which very little is known.

There are actually about a dozen St. Valentines, one St Valentina (her day is July 25) and a pope who chose the name Valentine because it means worthy, strong or powerful. So which of these is the one for whom Valentine’s Day is named?

The most likely candidate is a Father Valentine—a Catholic priest and doctor of the church; who spent most of his time in Rome and was ordered executed by Emperor Claudius II in 273AD.

His crimes—he officiated at marriage ceremonies for Christian couples, he aided Christians who were being persecuted and he tried to convert the emperor to Christianity. Of the three, trying to convert the emperor was an act of treason; as many Roman Emperors considered themselves to be one step below the gods and were certainly not about to submit to the God of the Bible. So it was for this crime that Fr. Valentine was put to death.

But he is honored by many for his defense of marriage and the traditional family in a culture where marriage was not held in high esteem and multiple relationships were the norm. So today, he is primarily recognized as the patron saint of engaged and happily married couples.

If St. Valentine could be with us today, I don’t think he’d be all that thrilled with the way we celebrate his day. I think he would remind us of the words that Jesus spoke when a young man asked him to identify the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. Jesus answered him this way: “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; love your neighbor as yourself.”

I think St. Valentine would ask one thing of us. He’d want us to make every day a Valentine’s Day; a day in which we show our love for God by acts of loving kindness done for others.