Remember St. Valentine

Valentines DayALERT – 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.

 

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The Mystery of Marriage

I have the best seat at almost every wedding I attend.  I stand about three feet from the bride and groom.  I see the furtive look of the bride as she arrives at the head of the church wanting to see the expression on the groom’s face.  I see the intensity with which the bride and groom look at each other when they are repeating their vows.  I see the look of joy on their faces when I pronounce them husband and wife.  I do have the best seat in the place.

Saturday I officiated at the most important wedding I have attended in almost 31 years  – the wedding of my son, Joel, to his bride, Rachel.  What a joy it was to officiate and watch my son up close as he made a covenant with his wife.  Their love for each other was so evident.  The seriousness of the moment was also evident in their eyes as they took the vows upon their lips that many generations before them have taken.

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Scripture and Gay Marriage

Today, after a great deal of pressure, President Obama announced that he supports gay marriage.  This was not a surprise.  It has long been thought that he was a supporter of gay marriage but did not believe announcing it was worth the political fall out.  But Vice President Biden made that silence harder to hold when he publicly supported gay marriage in an interview.

I was not surprised by Obama’s announcement but I was terribly saddened by his rationale for it.  It is reported by news agencies that he cited his and his wife’s faith as the main reason for supporting gay marriage.  In his interview with ABC News he cited the Golden Rule as the main issue – treat others and you would want to be treated.

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