I pray you all had a wonderful St. Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome. He is the Patron Saint of bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. St. Valentine was a bold witness for the faith and the love of God as He gave up his life for the faith. How many people know about the origin of this holy day? I remember growing up and enjoying the day as it was a great opportunity to score candy during school, yet I can remember the pressure that was put on us internally/externally to have a “valentine.” I have heard some little ones lament the fact that they have to give out valentines and that there’s the expectation of reciprocity when one gives you a special valentine. I pray for our little ones in this culture that we live in. I just read today that in a middle school on the east coast some puzzles from the movie 50 Shades of Grey were handed out to the children and when the parents questioned the principal he had no reply. How do these things get into the school? Well we know.
The enemy is always looking to pervert a good thing. Love is a great thing. God is love. One of the results of love is that it brings a man and a woman together and at the right time in the right context, in the bond of Holy Matrimony, that love leads to an intimate encounter that expresses that love in an action that says, “I am completely yours, forever. I give you all of myself and am open to the life that God wants to bring forth from this relationship as we give ourselves to one another for the rest of our lives.” This is what the conjugal or marital act communicates. It is a beautiful thing when realized in this context and not for selfish or lustful reasons. For even though it might seem like a good thing outside of marriage, fornication perverts the end for which the act was intended and it leads to disintegration because the act is then a lie as the parties engaged may enjoy the moment, but they have lied to each other in that they have not committed themselves to the other exclusively for the rest of their lives. This then leads to all kinds of difficulties in the relationship and in future relationships.
As we look to God, He will always guide us on the way of true love. He cannot do otherwise as He is LOVE. Some think that His commands are burdensome, He’s only trying to keep us from enjoying these good things. As all of you parents know, this is a very adolescent view and only with trust in the God who loves us can we try to see that it is for our own good and our eternal happiness that God gives us these moral boundaries. As parents we want the best for our children and won’t let them do things that will harm them, but no matter how hard we try, they have a free will and will do what they want to whether they will get hurt or not. Some of us learn the hard way, but it is not necessary. We need to tell our children the truth about this wonderful plan of God’s love for us. If we don’t teach our children about it then they will learn the perverted version in the world around them. We can’t shield them from it, but we can counter it with the truth about God’s loving plan for His children. We will do all we can to help you in this regard in the catechism classes and in youth group, but there is a great responsibility we have to educate our children at home, to talk about these things, and to be that example of God’s love for our children. I would be willing to teach on this specifically and have a night for a parents’ Q&A. Let me know if you are interested and we will work on a date and time. As in all things I am praying for you and your children as we seek to grow in the wonderful love of our Savior who poured out His life for us on the cross. As we begin Lent, may we have that sacrificial love always before our eyes.
Fr. Jack D. Shrum