12 February 2009

SAINT Valentine's Day

This weekend I’ll be in Cebu city as part of a team giving a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend. St Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of it. Shortly after I started my blog just over a year ago I posted an item about putting the ‘saint’ back in St Valentine’s Day. Some of my WWME friends are probably sick of my reminding them that 14 February is 'SAINT Valentine's Day', not 'Valentine's Day'.

What is certain is that there is a St Valentine, martyred on 14 February either in AD 269 or 270. Though he is no longer on the universal calendar of the Church he is still honoured. There is a shrine to him in the church of the Carmelites (OCarm), Whitefriar St, Dublin, and their website tells us everything that there is to know about the saint . It also gives the texts for the Mass of St Valentine

The core of the stories about St Valentine is that this young Roman priest, what we would now call a diocesan priest, was martyred for officiating at weddings when Emperor Claudius II, ‘the Cruel’, forbade them because he was engaged in so many wars.

Here in the Philippines St Valentine’s Day is almost always referred to as ‘Valentine’s Day’. Indeed the ‘St’ is left out in most English-speaking countries. For many young people it is simply a day to express innocent friendship. For many married couples it is a day for renewing their love for one another. But for many unmarried young adults it is, quite frankly, a day for fornicating.

Marriage is more and more under attack in the west. I can think of no better patron for priests and married couples involved in strengthening marriage than St Valentine.

And I also think that the Church should put more emphasis on marriage than on the family, since the sacrament of matrimony is the foundation of the family and the vocation to be a spouse is more fundamental than the vocation to be a parent. In God’s plan, parenthood is meant to be a consequence of the two, husband and wife, becoming one.

The statue in the photo above is in the shrine of St Valentine in the Carmelite Church in my native city, Dublin.

May I wish everyone a Happy SAINT Valentine's Day!


Unknown said...

When my husband I were choosing our wedding date, a catechist suggested Feb 14. I didn't initially like it as it sounded cheesy.

I'm glad I read this blog. Feb 14 for me will never be the same again...

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thank you, Anne. I've been 'crusading'on behalf of St Valentine these last few years.