The Catholic Defender: Love and St. Valentine
"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)".
It is clear that love is very central to our relationships. Without love, we serve another master and we deviate off course. So love must be the motivation why we do anything. The Greek language gives four different words that identified love in a person. They are as follows:
1. Agape, which is unconditional love. This expression has come to mean the deeper love between a man and a woman, the love of God for a sinful race, without it a person would hold a low self esteem. Most Christians would see the love between God and man as agape. The supreme act on the cross was agape love.
2. Éros, this is passionate love, romance, the physical love between a man and a woman. This is the desire and the longing. This is specifically felt during 12 -15 month deployments to the Middle East, but it is more than a sexual nature or expression.
The modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love". But this can apply to dating as well as marriage so it isn't always used for physical but also emotional understanding. Eros has also been identified as a kind of love for a friend or an appreciation for the beauty of a person.
Eros has even been used to show a spiritual expression. Through this philosophy, lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros. People can be very passionate about truth. That is for sure.
3. Philia, from modern Greek, Philia refers to friendship or brotherly love. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.
Philos denoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
Since I have "loved" the Kansas City Chiefs growing up and sports in general, philia as a word expression would be a distinguishing factor. I am noticing a certain cross connect in these expressions that can infer lovers in all of them.
I find this important. As a married couple, the husband and wife should not only be lovers, but also best friends, they should have that kind of relationship.
4. Storge, is a word that expresses "affection" in modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Storge is almost exclusively referred to as a descriptor of relationships within the family.
It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in "loving" the tyrant. This best explains my position of how I feel about liberals in politics.
In our American culture, we simply use love as an expression for just about everything. If sex was "love", then you can say the United States was a very loving country? Somehow this seems out of place.
St. Paul spoke of Knowledge at the beginning of this article. This is based in the knowledge of God's love for us and our response to his love.
This knowledge is expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:8 stating, "To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom: to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit".
This is the language of Isaiah as he writes, "But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:1-3).
To have true love or that "agape" unconditional love in our hearts, we must allow the God of creation to implant and infuse his love within us. This gift from God is given to us in Baptism (Acts 2:38).
To resist God's love would create the true hell that exists for those who refuse to love God above all things. Hosea 4:6 reminds us "My people perish for want of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from my priesthood; Since you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your sons".
There is a connection between God's love and His knowledge. To reject God is to open yourself to every evil and the hounds of hell. Lust is the direct opposite of agape love and the true desire of a man and woman.
With the perversion of the word "love" we see every kind of immorality, fornication, homosexuality, and incest.
We must strive to follow Christ picking up our cross and follow him. St John writes, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (John 3:16).
The motivation for the believing Catholic is set before us in this journey, to go to Mass out of love for God and His Church. To pray with fervor in love for God trusting in his word.
The Rosary, reading the bible, prayer of all kinds can and does take commitment and sometimes work. Love for God and his Church gives us right motivation to administer and receive the Sacraments, God's grace. We become Soldiers of the cross.
St. Paul continues, "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). February 14 is a great American tradition. It is called St. Valentines Day, and few people really know the foundation of this great story. In shopping centers you will find flowers, chocolates, and Valentines cards that people trade and share to show their friendships.
I remember at Mass, the Priest would offer married couples to renew their vows in a sacramental way. That is really awesome, I see that in a similar way like during the Easter Season, renewing our Baptismal vows. St. Valentines Day is a great way to show your love for your spouse.
Acts 1:8 Jesus states, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” A witness many times would be closely associated with the Greek word Maptus which is the root word for martyrdom.
In our Catholic tradition, the feast of St. Valentine is an honor to a great Catholic Saint who died in 269 A.D. He placed God first in his life and is a great model for us all. He truly was a witness for Christ whom he served as one of his priests. During the persecution of the Roman Emperor, Cladius II, St. Valentine served with his family, St. Marius, helping the martyrs.
As a Priest, St. Valentine served Our Lord and His holy Church in the face of the persecution. He would be captured by the Roman Army and interrogated. After several tortures, St. Valentine was sent by the Emperor to the Prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs.
St. Valentine was heroic as were many he served. St. Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II.
St. Peter once encouraged the presbyters to tend the flock of God and to lead by example. As a priest of God, this was St. Valentine’s calling.
As St. Peter before him, St. Valentine showed great courage in the face of trial. Because of the strength of St. Valentines faith, he was helping the flock of Christ.
He was apprehended, and sent by the Emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and ultimately to be beheaded.
God is always showing his love even towards his enemies. St. Valentine was able to reach his jailer with the gospel, who was near blindness.
As a sign of the Lord’s favor with St. Valentine, the Lord healed the Jailer who was keeping watch restoring his sight to him. This recalls the story of St. Paul reaching out to his guard whose entire household had been baptized.
St. Valentine died on February 14, about the year 270. Claudius had St. Valentine beheaded, just like St. Paul, his spiritual Father!
Pope Julius built a church in his honor near Ponte Mole in the custom of the Church!
The remains of St. Valentine are now in the Church of St. Praxedes which is his final resting place. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the records of St. Gregory, the historical evidence of the memory of St. Valentine has been handed down from generation to generation by the people he bore witness to and served.
To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day. Hence, happy Valentines Day!
It is interesting that the long held name had been Porta Valentini, a sign of the devotion of the people of God for this holy Saint. St. Valentine’s memory has been honored by many through the expression of the love people have for one another.
This has transcended time, space and culture. As St. Nicholas is honored for the giving of all he had to those in need, St. Valentine is remembered for giving the highest gift of himself for his people. Notice the predominate red coloring associated with St. Valentine!
This symbolizes his martyrdom. Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13-14). St. Valentine, friend of Jesus, pray for us.
Recent archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.