Did you know that Saint Valentine was actually one of the earliest martyrs of the church? Although the origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday is somewhat mysterious, as are the exact identity and details of the life of the man whose namesake the occasion carries, it certainly gives an interesting perspective to today’s holiday.
At our wedding, my husband and I chose a reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians because of its emphasis on the sacrificial love spouses are called to embrace. We had good parents and mentors that were constantly reminding us that the true purpose of marriage is to reflect the love relationship of Christ with “the church” when He gave Himself—His very life—for her. Such an incredible vocation would require much work and much sacrifice.
In a world that constantly questions and attacks the objective good of marriage for adults, children, and society, an orchestrated effort is made every year during National Marriage Week, which coincides with the celebration of Valentine’s Day, to encourage the intentional strengthening of both individual marriages, and the marriage culture overall. Every married couple, every single person who hopes to one day be married, every parent, every church has the chance every day to make choices that will strengthen their own marriages, the marriages around them, and the community and culture in which those marriages exist. The National Marriage Week website provides a variety of resources and tools toward this end.
Such a foundational institution must be carefully crafted and lovingly cared for day in and day out. Now is the time to identify how you and your spouse can work together to strengthen your marriage. For Your Marriage, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), encourages couples to use the National Week for Marriage as an incentive for committed prayer and effort to strengthen their own marriages and the marriage culture at large. Couples can take advantage of a seven-day virtual marriage retreat, complete with a daily theme, reflection, discussion item, and prayer, and sign-up for continuous daily marriage tips that offer quick, easy, or insightful reflections or challenges each day. Research consistently finds that one of the most positive things couples can do for their marriage and children is to share an active faith life that includes weekly worship attendance. Men’s active participation in the faith life of a church is particularly powerful, according to a new study.
So, recognizing that marriages are about much more and are much bigger than just the two people involved in them, use today’s memorial of a great saint, who sacrificed his very life for the faith he believed and loved so dearly, as a chance to make a similar life-giving commitment in your own relationships. St. Augustine might have captured the essence of this day best when he said, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him, the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” Give your love and life to eternity, and bring your spouse and children on the journey with you. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!
Want to express your love for and desire to protect marriage and family on this day? Give to NC Family in honor of your loved one!