Valentine’s Day ranks up there with Groundhog Day and Earth Day in my book, meaning it isn’t in the ranking. But this morning I thought, why don’t I read up a bit on Saint Valentine and see if there’s something to chew on about this lovey-dovey day.
Well no one knows who the real Saint Valentine is — there are around 11 other saints by that name. The most likely originator was either a priest or a bishop, or was perhaps both, but either way, both third century men by the name Valentinus were beheaded. How’s that to end your rose-toting romance? With that tidbit locked away, I moved on with my neither cynical nor romantic day.
Then I had an encounter in the locker room. As I tied my chlorine-soaked hair into a knot and wiped smeared mascara off my face, a girl whom I presume to be a Notre Dame student smiled at me and cheerfully said, “That’s a really lovely blouse.” Such a simple compliment, I know, but the locker room is a pretty strict stay-silent-and-keep-your-eyes-to-yourself zone, so it came as a shock. After I thanked her, she concluded with “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
I walked out and began thinking of this mystery gal and how she found something kind to say, even when it was completely unnecessary. Perhaps she was inspired by today’s holiday about love. For love, we often forget, is our greatest call as Christians.
In John we read, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (13:34-35). God tells us that in order to receive salvation, we must love one another abundantly. If we are to respond to His greatest call to us, shouldn’t our holiday for love be based in this love for all humanity, instead of one that has devolved into grand, material, romantic gestures? Rather than finding the longest-stemmed roses and the most delicious chocolates for our darlings, shouldn’t we reach out to one another, to strangers, to family, and share love and kindness with them? And, in thinking about love, shouldn’t we be thinking about the ultimate sign of love, Jesus’ crucifixion for us? For that is what love truly is.
Remembering to love one another and internalizing the profundity of true love, especially with Lent upon us, is a holiday we could all get behind.
Tara Hunt is an associate editor of this magazine. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.