Today is Valentine Day and “Happy Valentine Poor St Valentine” is second entry in the Wisdom of Fr Lazarus series.

Fortunately, I was in church this morning, and this was what my favorite preacher said:

“All too often, we tend to forget that Valentine is a Saint. We know very little about this saint. The much we know is that he was a Roman Soldier who did a lot of work for the Church. Especially in her days of tribulation.

The most famous work he did was helping a lot of prisoners of conscience escape from captivity. Those he could not assist, he went out of his way to provide for their comfort – food, medicine, clothes.

“I shudder today when I look at the way we honour the memory of this man. How we dishonour the sacrificial love he gave to mankind. Rather than honour, we make elaborate preparations, aided by a mindless media, to dishonour him.

“The love that St. Valentine exemplified represents one of the highest forms of sacrificial love. It was not the selfish or the self-serving love that today celebrates sex and concupiscence.

What to do today

“So ask yourself these three questions today: What is Valentine to me? Where am I going to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day? How am I going to celebrate it?

“Here are some of the things you might wish to consider.

“What is Valentine? For most men, when they think of their Valentine, they think of their girlfriends. Most women think of their boyfriends. I’m sure you know that there are married men and women who think like this.

But ask yourself: Who was this Saint’s valentine? They were prisoners, the poor and the oppressed – his neighbours. They were not his wife, children, or girlfriend!

“For married people who want to make allowance for their immediate family members, I would recommend that they follow a simple dictum. Charity begins at home … but does not end there. So yes, show some love to them today. The pressures of earning a living have made so many ignore their spouses and children for very long spells.

It’s about charity

“For the unmarried, send text messages to your father, your mother, and your siblings. They’re the people who love you the most and have made the most sacrifices in the process of your formation. They are the people who made you worthy of attention by today’s valentine hunters!

“But listen! All must move further afield after discharging this home charity. And this is where you might want to be a bit careful. Consider first your neighbours. That includes your enemies and those you have deliberately ignored for some time now.

Is this not a good opportunity to reconcile with them – using this occasion of love?

“Where should we celebrate Happy St Valentine Day? You only have to recall what St. Valentine did. You will not be in doubt about where you ought to be today. If you are serious about having a meaningful celebration.

“I give you the following suggestions. The prisons, the hospitals, the orphanages, the poor, the widows, and the orphans. All those that are in a physical, social, political, or economic prison. They are silently crying out for help to escape from their oppressions, from their injustice, from corruption, from want!

“If you are looking for someone to have “a good time” with today, you miss it. And you dishonor the memory of this saint!

Where it went wrong

“I think I know at what point we began to dishonor the memory of this saint. Most people you meet today would tell you: “Happy Valentine.” Very, very, few would give the most appropriate greeting: “Happy St Valentine Day”.

The first greeting conjures a picture of mindless irresponsibility; the second sobriety and responsibility.

“I think that today is a sad day for St Valentine in Heaven. He peers down at us and what some will do today, and recoils in revulsion. Mark you, some day, some of us will make heaven, and then encounter St. Valentine.

I imagine him peering again, rubbing his eyes to make sure he is not seeing double, and then reacting with anger:

‘You, how did you make it here – after following them to dishnonour my name and desecrate all that I stood for? I must surely complain to My Father about this. It’s obvious that injustice has been committed in Heaven by the decision to admit you here!’ ”

LAST LINE: If you really want to be responsible and honour the memory of this Saint today, ensure that you greet everyone you meet with the sobering words: “Happy St Valentine Day.”

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