Before the Christmas season was over (even as soon at December 26th!), there were heart-shaped candies, cards, and stuffed animals lining the shelves preparing for Valentine’s Day. Being single, this date typically comes and goes without much fanfare.
In the past it has generated anxiety, happiness, self-pity, and gratefulness – such a wide range of emotions from one over-commercialized day.
It wasn’t until I grew more in my faith that I began to appreciate what Saint Valentine’s Day could be.
This spiritual growth led me to a greater understanding of gratuitous love – the love Jesus has for us in giving of his life for our salvation. This love is freely given with no expectation of return. St. Augustine tells us, “The measure of love is to love without measure.”
We must first open our hearts and give love, in big ways and small, for our hearts to be open to receive the love that is waiting for us.
When I think of my loved ones, their names come easily and quickly to my mind. However, there are some on the bottom of that list that are more difficult to love. Be it due to unresolved issues of the past, recurrent real or perceived offenses, a difference of opinion or beliefs, or someone that just rubs me the wrong way (or I them).
St John of the Cross offered us a bit of a “Field of Dreams” perspective when he wrote,
“Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love.”
A little mercy and grace can go a long way in improving and even healing a relationship. Saint Valentine’s Day offers me a reminder to lead with love and pray that God can turn our hearts of stone into colorful, sweet, loving conversation hearts.
This Saint Valentine’s Day, reach out to the ones you love big and small, and pray for those that are hard to love.
Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth. -St. John Vianney