This weekend, many people will be celebrating Valentine's Day, a secular holiday celebrating "love." I am not sure what degree of love. It seems from everything including initial relationships to love that has endured and been strengthened by the test of time. Thus, from a philosophical point of view Eros to Agape.
Obviously, being a celibate man and ordained priest, I witness the celebration from a distance and just make sure I call my mother to wish her my love, as well as spend a few dollars on a card for her.
Here at St. Michael Parish, our Knights of Columbus Council sponsors a dance and dinner and we renew marriage vows for married couples. A nice way to celebrate marital love and to honor public proclamations of love between a man and woman, as well as before God.
Of course, all love, regardless if its intensity, comes from God. It is a human emotion from divine origin. Maybe Valentine's Day is also a time to recall the origin of love-God. There is a Catholic devotional practice to Jesus known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus, advocated throughout the ages, but particularly through apparitions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque between 1673-1675.
In the apparition, St. Margaret Mary gives details of Jesus showing His divine heart to her. His heart is an actual heart aflame with mercy and love, longing for humanity to accept divine love and mercy to guide their daily lives. Thus, transforming a heart with limited love to a heart that is self-giving and self-sacrificing. In that apparition, Jesus speaks of his heart suffering for people to accept his divine love and mercy.
This coming weekend many will partake of delicious chocolate candy (wrapped in a heart-shaped box) or better yet a tasty meal at a local restaurant or prepared by the one who states their love for another. All demonstrations of an aspect of divine love.
It is reassuring that humans can still fall in love with each other amid so many obstacles to believing in the power of love transforming the world and the human heart.
For a person of faith in Christianity, please know I am not stating that the secular celebration somehow is a religious celebration, though Valentine is a name of a saint who embodied Christian love.
Nonetheless, all aspects of love have glimpses of the divine and hopefully with the celebration all of us attempt to have a better understanding of love that is selfless giving and sacrificing.
Would it not be nice if all our hearts suffered and longed for people to love from the heart? I think yes, so, who do we need to send a Valentine to? Happy Valentine’s Day.
The Rev. Msgr. Michael L. Farmer is a native of Prattville and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Mobile in 1995 . Prior to his appointment as pastor of St. Michael Parish, he was Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mobile.