Man Cannot Live Without Love: Valentine's Day as a Cultural Barometer and Invitation to Mission
My effort in this article is to take an entirely different approach. I want to suggest that Valentine's day is a cultural barometer and an invitation.
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer fully reveals man to himself (John Paul II)
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Thursday, February 14, 2012, is Valentine's Day. It is one of the most popular of our predominantly secular holidays in the West. Before you assume I am going to join in the critiques of the holiday in some Christian circles by decrying its commercialism, or assume I will try to find some way of confirming the existence of a verifiable St Valentine in order to situate the day within a religious message, please read on. .
Who knows? Maybe there really was a St Valentine.The various accounts point in that direction. Maybe attempting to give that kind of a religious ground to the day through hagiography has merit. And, maybe there is value to critiquing the commercialism which has accompanied the day. However, it seems quite apropos in a culture being suffocated by a materialist ethic precisely because it has lost its soul and forgotten God.
My effort in this article is to take an entirely different approach. I want to suggest that Valentine's day is a cultural barometer and an invitation to mission.
My beloved wife of thirty seven years, best friend, mother of our five children and "Mimi" to our six grandchildren, has a birthday on February 13th. So, I regularly find myself in a card store in the midst of the frenzied crowd searching for Valentines cards every year. I always get one, along with the Birthday cards, and this year was no different. What was different was the massive size of the crowd and the fact that these two days also fell at the beginning of an early Lent.
I have been a Deacon of the Catholic Church for seventeen years and this liturgical season has become a special time for reflection, repentance and deep examination of conscience. This year, my experience of the size of the crowd encouraged more than irritated me. I saw men and women who are hungering to express their love. It brought to mind these words from Blessed John Paul's first Encyclical Letter, the Redeemer of Man:
"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". (Gaudium et Spes, 22)
"If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created!"
The truth is that we were all created out of love and for love. We came into being as a great creative act of Love. The God who is Love, a Trinitarian communion of perfect love in perfect unity, fashioned us in His Image and invited us to respond in love. Redemption is a re-creation in Jesus Christ, who is Love Incarnate. The beloved disciple John who wrote the most cited words of the Gospel which bears his name, "God so loved the world that he sent His only Son" (John 3:16) also wrote in his beautiful first epistle that God is Love and he who lives in love lives in God, and God in Him" ( 1 John 4:16)
The New Testament was written in Greek, a language which has several words to speak of different kinds of love; the love between husband and wife; the love between family members; the love between friends; and the Love of the God. It also has a word to describe the greatest act of Love, the condescension of love, the great self emptying love of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, English does not.
However, all human love participates in and is perfected by God's love. In other words, the very need for love is a need for God. It is written into our spiritual genetic code. Our very hunger for love is meant to draw us back to the One who is the Source, the goal and the fulfillment of all love.
So, on this Valentine's Day, I suggest the fact that the Holiday seems to be growing in popularity is a form of cultural barometer. It shows us that no matter how secularized the culture has become, the hunger for love is an invitation to live the message of the fullness of God's Love in a visible, compelling and attractive way. This age is populated by men and women who are primed for the Gospel precisely because they are so parched for the fullness of love we have to offer.
I further suggest that, as with past missionary ages, we reconsider the haranguing concerning Valentine's Day and "baptize" it. A proper approach to inculturation invites us to consider how this secular holiday can be Christianized. How can it be used as a part of our missionary approach at the beginning of the Third millennium? I do not believe we live in a post Christian West. Rather, we live in a Pre-Christian West. The huge crowds in that card store reveal the field which is ripe for the harvest.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More U.S. News
- Fr. Paul Schenck: The New Eugenics, 'Better Babies' and the Dangers of Biotechnology
- Interview With Cardinal SeŠn Patrick O'Malley Gives Insights into the Heart of Pope Francis
- Deal W. Hudson: Why Social Conservatives Should Become Cultural Conservatives
- CORPORATE SPY: Engineering consultant accused of stealing secrets from DuPont for Chinese
- 24th season of Defending Life Premiered March 5th on EWTN
- Justina Pelletier: Massachusetts DCF Running for Cover Under Legal and Media Pressure
- Matt C. Abbott On a New Book, The Seven Big Myths About Marriage
- Deal Hudson on Culture and the Death of God
- 'Ag gag' bill passes in Idaho; filming at farms now prohibited
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Wendy C. RN., BA. - Catholic Online, 3/8/2014
'Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face...' (Matthew 6:1-18) LOS ANGELES, CA - Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/8/2014
The prayer of Jesus opened the heavens, brought provision to the hungry, gave Him clarity for making decisions and brought the glory of heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Prayer still does all ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 3/6/2014
Every Lent is also a reminder to us of our own mortality. "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return" is a time for us to pause and reflect. In an age drunk on self worship, a reminder of ...Continue Reading
Fr Dwight Longenecker - Catholic Online, 3/5/2014
Put very simply--Jesus commands us to fast and pray. The saints take fasting seriously and the church commands us to make fasting part of our life. Why not take up this discipline with a new ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »