By Fr. Simon Esshaki
Valentine's Day is something so much deeper than what our culture says it is and in the way our culture treats it. People treat Valentine's Day as a holiday to make an excuse to buy their significant other or something or treat their significant other in a lustful way. Companies use it to get money from people; they have really commercialized the holiday.
But the meaning of Valentine's Day is so much deeper, and it goes back to the third century. Now there are a lot of different ideas for where Valentine's Day comes from, as to why we celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14. Nothing is really hundred percent fact because there are a lot of different stories but I just want to share one of the legends, one of the stories that probably is true about how it happened.
It is true that there is a Saint Valentine, and that this Saint Valentine died, was martyred on February 14. Now the way it happened most likely was that he was living in the Roman empire and there was a Roman emperor named Claudius at the time, in the Third Century, who prohibited marriages because he wanted his soldiers not to focus on their wife and kids but just on him, just on the army! And so Valentine was a priest who would perform marriage ceremonies for these people in secret. He was a faithful man, and these people really trusted him. He would administer the sacraments to them. When the emperor found out that he would do this, he got very upset. He ended up telling him to stop doing it and he ended up trying to get him to renounce Christ and the Christian faith. Valentine refused, he refused until he was put to death. He was a martyr for the faith.
And so the story of Saint Valentine shows us about the love that this man had for God, because he stayed faithful to the laws of God, and his love for the people who he served, that he risked his life and he gave his life to give these people the Sacrament of Matrimony. It also shows the love that these people had for each other, that they would also risk their life for love of each other and their love for the laws of God, that they risked their lives to be married the right way that God wanted them to be.
And so this is something we can learn from, from what this feast day actually is, what we should actually focus on. It is a good reminder for our culture now that has made relationships a lot of the time based on lust and not on real love. Real love is sacrifice, it is giving of oneself for another. Real love is not using another just for the pleasure of their bodies, real love waits to do it the right way. Real Love waits to be intimate with one another, for the man and woman, for the intimacy to be only once they have both made a promise to each other before God and the Church in marriage. The marital act is a full gift of self, there is nothing more you can give than that. And so we need to be reminded as a culture that the marital act is meant for marriage only and is ordered toward having children because that is what God made it for.
My friends, we should take this day as an opportunity to show others what the real meaning of love is, what the real meaning of marriage is, that it is ordered toward the family and toward God's law and God's love for us. If we can love God with a pure heart, if we can follow his law then we can also love others with a pure heart. Let us take this as an opportunity to help others see what the real meaning of love is, so that in your lives and in your relationships you can also live that, you can also live the way that Jesus wants you to live your relationships and to treat others for who they are, not just for the way they make you feel; to love others, not just for their body, but for who they are. We are all children of our God who loves us. God has given us that dignity of being his children, so that as children we can live in love and in unity with him and with each other.