A phenomenon that has taken over in a big way here in T&T is the celebration of St Valentine’s day. The malls and the flower shops, even the so-called “10-dollar” shops all take advantage of the hype that this day generates. Love tokens are sent by emails, text messages and cards. Greeting cards and flowers , especially roses – real, paper or plastic – are exchanged at a phenomenal rate. We also hear of incidences in schools where there are some unfortunate happenings because someone did not receive an expected card from “ a certain someone”. The pain of being dumped, of being ignored, of not receiving cards from friends of either sex is real and palpable. But if done in a proper manner with kindness and thoughtfulness then there is much joy and happiness in these exchanges.
Here is an extract from thecatholicblog on the origin of this day:
“On the Traditional Catholic Calendars, today is a day to remember St Valentine, priest and martyr.
Today, although many don’t realise it, St Valentine’s Day is based on the life of St Valentine, a Roman martyr who was beheaded in circa 269-273 AD. Emperor Claudius II declared that unmarried men were potential soldiers, so he outlawed marriage. However, St Valentine abhorred his outrageous action and continued to marry young couples. Claudius attempted to convert St Valentine to paganism, but St Valentine resisted and attempted to bring Claudius to the Church and Jesus Christ. For this, the Emperor had St Valentine beheaded.
In prison he helped the imprisoned soon-to-be martyrs. The jailer saw that Valentine was a man of learning, so he brought his daughter, Julia, to Valentine for lessons. Julia was a young girl, who had been blind since her birth. During the lessons, St Valentine would read to her about the history of Rome. And, he taught her about God…..
On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, “From your Valentine”. His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 AD, near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. On each February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world.
St Valentine – patron saint of lovers
Many think that this is the exclusive terrain of young people, as if only young people are lovers. The mandate to be a lover was given by Christ to us all.
We read in Matthew 22: 36 -40
“Master, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: you must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets also.”
Each person has the capacity and indeed the obligation to be a lover. Lovers are of all ages, from the very young to the very old – persons of every walk of life, persons of every lifestyle, persons who are “challenged” in one way or another. Being loved is a basic need of all human persons.
Many children in school make cards for their friends and parents, but to emphasise that this is a day to remember that we are all lovers, both givers of love and receivers of love, what about having them do and think differently:
• Speak to the children about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that Jesus gives us His love freely and without condition also what it means to give our heart to Jesus
• Have them identify one or two hymns that speak to them about Jesus’ love for them or theirs for Him and sing them
• Have the children list those in society who might not be getting many (or any) Valentine’s day cards or whom they might overlook, for example, grandparents, sick in hospitals, people in senior citizens homes, prisoners, elderly neighbours etc. Have them make simple cards for them and then go out and distribute them (or mail them).
• Have them make a beautiful card for someone unknown, assuring that person that they will pray for them each day for the rest of February and then have an exchange of cards in the classroom.