On February 14, a Roman priest named Valentine was beheaded. Romantic? A beheading doesn’t bring images of flowers, wine, chocolate, and romantic dinners to my mind anyway.
You see, Valentine lived during the rule of Claudius the Cruel. The emperor sought to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed married soldiers were unwilling to leave their wives and families. He deduced how unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones for that reason. Therefore Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.
However, Valentine, believing in the sacredness of marriage, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages in secret. When he was found out the emperor ordered the priest put to death in a three-part execution: beating, stoning, and decapitation.
Legend has it that while in jail, St. Valentine befriended the jailer’s blind daughter. Just before his death the priest left a farewell note for her and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”
So what can we learn from this priest’s example, and how should we celebrate this day in honor of St. Valentine? We see that he stood for what is right. He served others at great risk to himself. And he wrote words of friendship, encouragement, and love until the very end of his life.
Face it, flowers fade, wine bottles empty, chocolate is consumed, and romantic dinners are over in an evening. And yet we are bombarded with messages that this is the way to celebrate the day. What would St. Valentine say? Thoughts?
Love isn’t always convenient, appreciated, or recognized. Love can hurt. Love is often sacrifice. These statements will never be printed on tiny candy hearts.