ALERT – It’s Valentines Day today. Are you ready?
If that alert caught you off guard, you are likely in for a long day, unless you take action quickly. You can still write a romantic note and promise dinner tomorrow night – Yes it is almost always the guy who forgets.
Valentines Day is the day we give cards, flowers, candy, and other gifts as an expression of the love we have for spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, and others in our lives. But why on February 14? Did Hallmark come up with this idea? Valentines Day originated as a day to commemorate the life and death of a priest who lived in the third century in Rome – St. Valentine.
There is not a lot of information about St. Valentine. We know he was a priest who lived in Rome in the late third century when Claudius II was emperor. Rome was engaged in wars at the time and Claudius wanted to be sure he had the best army he could muster. However, there were too many Romans who were not interested in military service and Claudius suspected it was due to the young men getting married and wanting to be with their families. In response, Claudius outlawed marriages for young men in Rome.
Valentine, as a Christian priest, understood the importance of marriage, especially for a young man in a licentious culture. He continued to encourage his parishioners to get married and secretly performed weddings. Eventually word got out about his illegal activity and he was arrested. At his trial he was convicted and ordered to be put to death. His death penalty was carried out in three stages. First he was beaten. Then he was stoned. Finally, he was beheaded. His martyrdom took place on February 14, probably in the year 270.
Today, as you celebrate the gift of love and give valentines to each other, remember St. Valentine. Today we do not have laws outlawing marriage. But we do live in a culture, like Rome, that devalues marriage as the commitment of one man to one woman for life. You have an opportunity with your relationship to not only enjoy the fruit of true love but to also set an example of what enduring love looks like – an example our world desperately needs.
St. Valentine reminded us that marriage is a gift from God to be cherished and enjoyed. Today, be sure your valentine knows how much you love them.