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St. Valentine and love, why do they go together?

Love this day?
Love this day?
by Daniel Moyle (Creative Commons)

Do you remember the Valentine's you passed out at school? My kids do it too. I remember being the little girl and getting a little note from a boy in the class, my tiny heart jumped. Sure, he handed out notes to everyone , because that's what the teacher required, but I knew I was special.

We all want to feel special, to feel loved. It's this love that glues Valentine's Day on the calender each year and keeps it coming back for thousands more.

We know little about St. Valentine, a priest who lived under the Roman Emperor Claudius II. He was beheaded, we don't know why. But that's the stuff that begins great stories. Many stories and legends have come from his little life.

Valentine died around 280AD (archaeologists found his tomb), he later became a Saint in the Catholic church. In 496, Pope Gelasius I created the Feast of St. Valentine, celebrated on February 14th.

He might have created the celebration because of Valentine's great Christian reputation. He might have done it because that's what Popes do. He might have used this day as an alternative to the fertility rights celebration which happened between February 13th-15th called Lupercalia.

Whatever reason Valentine's Day started, and it's had some serious sticking power ever since. Why?

These quotes say it all:

"Love is a many-splendored thing." (movie title and song title)

"All the world loves a lover." William Shakespeare

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

We read about it, write about it, dream it, hope for it, listen to its music, dance to it song and no matter what, love lives on.

By 1969, St. Valentine's Day seemingly lost it's luster and Pope Paul VI had it removed from the Catholic calendar because of how little we know of the man, Valentine. Yet, we still celebrate; Catholic, Protestant, non-denominational, atheists, and all. This day hits a note we want plucked.

As for the man, if I had a guess, I'd say he never made a big deal of what he did. He simply did what he felt called to do as a minister of Christ Jesus. Others did the praising. He lived it, they told the tail.

That's what we can learn today.

Receiving affection is nice, but giving love starts with us. To be a lover, we must give to others and appreciate them. Maybe we'll receive reciprocation and maybe we won't. Valentine didn't. Jesus didn't. Many don't.

As parents, we live an often thankless role. But we keep on loving.

I read a wonderfully detailed article about 100 ways to make your marriage rock where the author gave great practical loving ideas for married couples. I've written about how to love your spouse or your children. But love must start with a decision -not a gift or a kiss- a decision to love without seeking a return on investment.

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