Valentine’s Day Since 496 AD we have been celebrating the martyrdom of St. Valentine on February 14. A priest of Rome, Valentinus (the name in Latin means “valiant” or “strong”) risked his life bringing the sacraments to persecuted Christians. He was eventually arrested, tortured, and martyred on February 14, 269. St. Valentine loved God enough to risk his life in obedience to Christ’s command to “feed my sheep.” Valentine died while bringing his parishioners the sacraments of God, the measure of true love. Love is a decision, not merely a sentiment. When I was in third grade, love was giving pink valentine cards to cute girls. Let’s hope, however, we learn to love more deeply than cute cards.
Ashes to Ashes Next week we will celebrate our first “post-Covid” Ash Wednesday (the lockdowns began just after Lent began last year). Since then, the fear of death has gripped our country, closing many businesses, churches, and schools. Let’s try to regain our balance, looking to the martyrs to keep a healthy perspective on bodily health and safety. They did not seek death, but neither did they fear it. The blood of the martyrs testifies that life is more than “staying alive and having stuff.” Setting our hopes on the Resurrection enables us to manage a pandemic rationally. Without seeing this life in the perspective of eternity, we will end up sacrificing far too much to obtain far too little. Ash Wednesday reminds us that “I am dust, and unto dust I shall return.” It’s an arresting thought, and as one priest told me, “cheer up. Soon you’ll be dead and all your problems will be over.” Indeed. God has always provided, so why would I think He wouldn’t provide for me after I die?