It’s February 5th.
Quick, what’s happening in 9 days?
Ahw, come on – chill out. It’s not that hard.
There is no reason to freak out that much about the feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius.
What? You knew I was talking about them, right?
I’m just kidding. Well, kinda – February 14th actually is the feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius.
Also another guy…perhaps you have heard of him?
Ahh, yes – this guy:
Romantic-looking holy card, no?
And for the record, St. Valentine’s day is not THAT scary.
Yeah, I said it. SAINT Valentine’s day.
Please note, I did not say:
S.A.D. (for those of you not aware, this stands for Singles Awareness Day)
Happy Heart Day
Why, yes, I am feeling snarky. How did you know?
Okay, so, St. Valentine’s Day is one of those “things”. You know, one of those “things” that’s all red and pink and sparkle and roses and candlelight and cute and mushy and “YAY!” except for single girls it’s kind of really, really…not.
I walked into Wal-Mart a few weeks ago (yeah, A FEW WEEKS AGO) and there were already about three aisles full of fuschia-glitter-covered-fal-de-rol right up by the doors.
Theory: I think most Catholic girls know when Ash Wednesday falls in relation to St. Valentine’s Day. Either because:
- They’re in a relationship with a Totally Rad Catholic Dude and want to know if they’ll be able to eat the Very Expensive Chocolate he’s definitely going to get them (if he’s smart, but he’s Totally Rad so obviously he’s smart enough to know Very Expensive Chocolate is in order), OR
- Because they are completely aware that it’s actually really irrelevant because there is no Totally Rad Catholic Dude planning on buying them chocolate either way, so Lent might as well come before V-day because then you’ve got the jump on the whole commercialized pink-and-red deal and it doesn’t stinking matter that there is no one to buy the Very Expensive Chocolate because you aren’t eating ANY chocolate or doing red-and-pink stuff during Purple Season anyway. So there.
I’m only sort of kidding about this.
I will admit freely (sheepishly, but freely) to seeing the three aisles at Wal-Mart and thinking words that are best left un-repeated by as-far-as-you-know-nice girls like me.
See, I know several completely amazing, truly beautiful, crazy talented, hysterically funny, terribly charming, Christ-following young women.
Oh, and some of them are unmarried, too.
A lot of them are married. I have lots of married friends. Girls I grew up with have kids. (As an aside: WEIRD.) I’ve even been in a few weddings. Four, to be precise.
And I love doing that. I love watching my friends be found, won over, swept off their feet, married, and havin’ babies. That there is what the good Lord intended. Good men romancing my sweet friends is one of the greatest joys I have.
AND, (not but, not instead of, AND) there are those moments where the little family-of-my-own-shaped ache gets a little harder to work around. The longing for my own family is one I believe God has placed in my heart. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what His desires for me are, and after a lot of trying He made it clear. He has a vocation planned for each of us, and for most of us, it’s marriage. I don’t think He puts that desire for a family on hold until *poof* Mr. Right appears. I think God perfects that desire by planting it in us, and then letting it grow, giving it a chance to gain some endurance, channeling it towards service for His glory in the in-between-times while we wait on His fulfillment of that desire.
All of which I really do believe, very little of which is an instant salve for the ache that stirs up at the sight of the approaching pink-and-red-and-roses-romance with which society celebrates a day whose meaning has been long-forgotten by most of us.
There’s plenty of backstory. You can look up Lupercalia and the She-Wolf and the fertility rites and the god Pan and his followers and so on and try to sort it out. Feel free.
You can look up St. Valentine and find out there are more than one. Seriously.
Or, you could just read this, which explains it all very clearly and briefly.
Long story short – Valentine, before his martyrdom, was known for risking his life to confer the Sacrament of Matrimony on young couples who desired it after the Roman Emperor outlawed marriages.
So, in a way he is a martyr in defense of marriage, something like St. John the Baptist or St. Thomas More.
Pretty hard-core, no?
Other stories about Valentine note his deep care and concern for those weaker or more helpless than him, in particular (after his arrest) his fellow prisoners and his jailer’s family.
Here comes what I’ve been getting at.
My lovely friend Katie, who has inspired blog posts in the past, set a beautiful example for me without, I think, even meaning to. This actually happens a lot. The particular time I’m thinking of was a St. Valentine’s day a few years ago.
She sent me a Valentine. Like, a legit care package Valentine.
She sends me packages kinda regularly, she actually sends them to a lot of people. She’s one of those completely amazing, truly beautiful, crazy talented, hysterically funny, terribly charming, Christ-following young women I mentioned earlier, plus she is really, really good at taking care of people. Me included.
That Valentine pretty much made my day. And the week. And maybe longer.
And it gave me an idea: we may not always remember it, but St. Valentine’s day is partly about celebrating the love of a man who gave freely to those who suffered alongside him. He could easily have focused on what he was waiting around for (release, or death), but instead he threw himself into a service that focused with laser intensity and immeasurable love.
The next year, I gave it a try. In my own, small-scale way: focus on others. Instead of moping about St. Valentine’s day, (or at least as much as I would have otherwise) I went shopping. I bought all kinds of things I really, really like. Very Expensive Chocolate, among other things. Pretty cards. Fun goodies.
Boxed it all up, and sent the little packages away.
I had So. Much. Fun.
Not only putting the boxes together, but in getting the responses from the girls I had sent them too. I kept hearing excitement exactly like the excitement with which I had responded to my dear friend Katie the year before. It was a total blast.
And I realized, that’s what St. Valentine is really an example of: the kind of of love that focuses on others, on trying to serve them, on directing the hurts and aches and longings of your own heart into acts of care for others who might be feeling the same.
So, this year, after about two minutes of wallowing in self-pitying-singleness, I remembered how much fun St. Valentine’s day really can be – and went shopping. 🙂
Now, I’m not advocating buying into consumerism or anything here. You can have a lot of fun and spread a lot of pink-and-red-cheer for real cheap. But just give it a try. It’s better then a distraction: it’s a direction. A direction of the energy and passion you will someday be able to pour into a romance if God hasn’t sent you one yet, and practicing that care for others will only serve your marriage in the long run.
Forget “Singles Awareness Day,” I’ve got my glittery, sparkly, chocolatey stash almost ready to go…and I can hardly wait for St. Valentine’s day.
In the meantime, today is the day to start a novena!! (What, you thought the nine-days-until remark at the beginning was a coincidence?)