Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thoughts on Valentine's Day from Father Ray Kelly

Love To Make All Better

On Valentine's Day 2015 Father Ray posted a wonderful personal story and also some historical points about Valentine's Day. We are not entirely sure we believe that the charming young lad in the story never received Valentine's wish from a (many a) girl, but we'll take him for his word.
Here is the post:
A Valentines message from Father Ray:
'As a young boy growing up, I always waited with excitement as the postman dropped all the cards in our letterbox on St Valentine's Day. They were usually all for my brother and sisters, but I never gave up hope!
When I came home from school, mine had arrived. I opened it with joy and excitement, and placed it in a special place for everyone to see. Of course I never even questioned that there was no stamp on the envelope.
On the 14th February every year my card would arrive as regular as clockwork. As I got older, one day I happened to be looking for something in my Mum's room, and hidden in a drawer were four more years of my Valentine card. I placed them back in the same position as I found them. I said nothing, I smiled, and I thought ‘thanks Mum’.
Did you know that the origin of this holiday for the expression of love is not really romantic at all?
Valentine was a Roman Priest at the time when Claudias was the Emperor of Rome, and who also persecuted the Church at that time. Claudias also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the theory that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers, because married soldiers might be afraid of what happened to them or their wives or families if they died in battle.
St Valentine lived in a very permissive society. Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. Yet some of them were attracted to the Christian faith. But obviously the Church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life, and that it was to be encouraged. And so it caused a problem for the Christian Church, as to what to do with those attracted to the Christian faith.
Valentine was all for them to marry in the Christian Church. And indeed, he secretly married them, despite the edict issued by Claudias. Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Claudias.
There are many stories about his imprisonment. One was that of a man named Asterius, a man who whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed and healed his daughter, with the result that Asterius himself became a Christian.
In the year 269 AD Valentine was sentenced to execution, all because of his stand for Christian Marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's cards and greetings by signing it ‘FROM YOUR VALENTINE’.
Valentine's martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars St Church in Dublin is one of the three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today many people make the pilgrimage to the Church to honour the courage and memory of this Christian saint.
Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. So today we celebrate it by giving flowers, chocolates, red hearts and dinner dates to the loved ones in our lives.
I hope you all have a very happy Valentines Day tomorrow'.
Father Ray.

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