The opposite of love, said Pope St John Paul II, is not hate, but indifference or to use somebody. This is a very important point for us as Christians to call to mind on this weekend of St. Valentine with all its hyper-sexualised commercialisation and the all too often uncouth preoccupation with the pleasure-seeking culture around us. However, our response as disciples of the Lord is to bring an ethos to the eros of our human sexuality. In truth there ought to be something beautiful about St. Valentine’s Day, and we must avoid all that attempts to taint it with vulgarity.
So let’s do what we can to make St. Valentine’s be…
A day on which romantic love is justly celebrated among the married, engaged and seriously dating couples, where they should feel inspired to show their affection for each other in extraordinary ways.
A day on which – hopefully – many men might drop to their knees to propose marriage to the woman of their dreams. Let’s pray for a real generosity of heart for men to overcome the commitment phobia of lifelong marriage and an abundant heart for receptivity of that love in the eyes and souls of the women who desire to share their life with them for life. In short let’s pray for more and more new and young betrothals-to be, to come in to being on this weekend.
A day perhaps when workaholics might be forced to pause to reflect on what’s more important – the love of their life and the loves in their life and how to cherish- truly cherish that love.
A day for spouses to really take time to simply rejoice in the gift of each other and rekindle their attractions – hopefully supported by children who will unselfishly give their parent’s permission to have some time alone.
A day of intense prayer perhaps on the part of those who out of long-suffering loneliness ache and yearn for the Lord to send them that someone who will help them to feel loved and loveable.
A remembrance in prayer for the widowed and those who even after a long time still feel the pain and sorrow of a departed one or a love lost.
Finally, if we know anyone in our life of faith who has got engaged, why not not do something concrete to encourage and affirm them in that commitment. Why not ask them if they have completed a marriage preparation course? Even if they have, suggest that they might enhance what they have discovered together by going through the excellent online programme for the engaged , and you can always suggest that it might be a good idea to have their engagement ring blessed? Any priest or deacon could use the Rite of Blessing for the Engaged. Do you know a married couple among your family or friends who will be celebrating a big wedding anniversary this year? Why not purchase an enrichment weekend for them at www.smartloving.org?
This week the Vatican issued a special set of guidelines and directory for clergy to help them preach homilies and sermons with greater skill and quality. In the same spirit, let’s invoke St. Valentine to help all of us in our committed relationships to renew the art of communicating our affection and love with deeper sincerity and purpose for the good of the other. In short may St. Valentine, in the spirit of Christ, enable us to rediscover the true art of the language of love for God’s glory and the salvation of souls.
– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster