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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Be My Valentine...

What is Valentines Day other than chocolate, roses and a romantic suggestion? 
What does that have to do with my relationship with God?
 
The feast of St. Valentine (of February 14) dates back to 496 when Pope Gelasius 1 included Valentine among all those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." So we are a bit lacking in the factual recordings of this particular Saint. However a lot of the early Saints do have legends that develop.
 
There are many legends behind Saint Valentine. Story has it that while under house arrest, because he defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly married couples so that the husbands wouldn't have to go to war. Soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. To remind Soldiers and persecuted Christians of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have given them hearts cut from parchment. Saint Valentine (who was a former Bishop) was challenged during a discussion about faith by Judge Asterius while under arrest. The judge insisted that Valentine prove his faith and the validity of Christ by restoring the eye sight of the Judges adopted blind daughter. If successful Asterius would do anything Valentine asked. Valentine laid his hands on her eyes and the child's vision was restored. Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentine what he should do. Valentine replied that all of the idols around the judge's house should be broken, the judge should fast for three days, and then undergo baptism. The judge obeyed and as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family and his forty-four member household (family members and servants) were baptized. Valentine was later arrested again and had to face the emperor Claudius. Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, but Claudius refused and condemned him to death, commanding that Valentine either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentine refused and Claudius' command was executed February 14, 269. Legend has it that on the day of his execution he left the girl a note that was signed “Your Valentine" as a farewell.
 
It is interesting that the celebration of Saint Valentine did not have any romantic connotations until 1381 when Chaucer wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Translated: 

For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.
 
The verse Roses are red is traceable as far back as 1590:
She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowers, that in the forest grew.

 
And this version dates 1784:
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.


So this Valentines Day when you are feeling all romantic and loving, step back from the commercial card rack and give a thought to the purpose of recognising Saints. Valentines Day wasn't invented to romance the opposite sex. Its purpose was to honour a Saint and to learn by his example. In the legends that developed about Saint Valentine he wasn't trying to win the heart of a young maiden, but rather he puts his dedication to his faith and love of God, followed by his love for and serving of others, above everything including his own safety.

O'Saint Valentine,
The lover of Christ and of the church,
we ask for your intercession
so that we may learn to love God above all things,
and to selflessly love one another.
O'Glorious Saint Valentine pray for us,
that we too may have the steadfast faith of the martyrs.


Almighty God, strengthen my faith.
Give me the courage to always place you first.
Fill my soul with the love of God
so that it may shine forth into the world.
Fill my heart with your love for man
so that I may serve them well according to your will.
Amen

Lord Jesus Christ... be my Valentine.
 
( by Di Mathews: churchwarden /blog administrator)

2 comments:

  1. There seems to be a typo in the prayer - "selfishly love" probably ought to read "selflessly love."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh dear, you are right. Thank you for spotting that, it is now corrected. God Bless <3

    ReplyDelete