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Genuine Valentines

By Kim A. Talbert, Author of The Burning Beast
February 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The central focus of February, in the secular calendar, is Valentine's Day, and expressions of love are for sale everywhere-rich chocolates, cards with beautiful lyrics, ornate picture frames, red roses, and enticing lingerie.

WASHINGTON, DC (the burningbeast.com) - The central focus of February, in the secular calendar, is Valentine's Day, and expressions of love are for sell everywhere-rich chocolates, cards with beautiful lyrics, ornate picture frames, red roses, and enticing lingerie. 

What if the internal thoughts of shoppers could be read as they entered a store's red-splashed world of heart-shaped goodies?  Do most pine over what they want to receive as they peruse the potential gifts?  Or do they view the vast array as wonderful opportunities to put a glow in another's spirit? 

With a special day designated to convey love, what an opportune time to lavish tokens of affection-especially unexpected ones-upon another.  Acts of love far outweigh the act of agonizing over what others can do for us. 

Love may begin as a feeling, but the actions behind it are what count.  Genuine love is not a noun, it's a verb.  Actions truly do speak louder-and longer-than words.  Love sweeps into humanity's souls as a euphoric experience, whether it be romance, a newborn baby, a pet, or even God.  The true test of love, though, is revealed in actions along the measurement of time. 

Couples who've been married for numerous decades understand that love isn't all about receiving romantic gestures; it's about giving time, effort, understanding, and compromise to the other spouse, even when one doesn't feel like it-and especially then.  

First glance at a newborn may stir the hearts of parents, but true love isn't revealed in their smiles over the hospital bassinet; rather, it unfolds on the timeline with every change of a dirty diaper, every clean-up of an upset stomach and every discipline for a wrong-doing.

The same goes for pets-puppies and kittens are adorable, but to really love one is to care for it as age strips it of its bodily functions and dignity.   

And God?  Professing love for Him, especially when life is agreeable, is not so difficult.  But what about those times when it seems God is silent and one's fingernails are embedded into the mountain of hope, only to individually rip off with each slip down the mountainside?  Do one's feelings of despair determine love for God, or does love for the Divine become a chosen action regardless of fickle feelings?

Now is the time to reflect upon opportunities to display love for others this Valentine's Day.  View those goodies in the store as seeds of love waiting to be sown, and purchase one for a loved one, then another for someone who'd least expect it.  Lavish your spouse or best friend with something that will be special to them, heaping on sincere kindness, regardless of the day's circumstances.  Rake someone's leaves who's not able to do it themselves. 

Purchase those little candies with sayings on them and leave individual ones on family members' pillows.  Treat a co-worker to lunch.  Write a heartfelt note in a well-chosen card, or smile at a stranger.  Forgive someone.  Love God through actions towards others and not just by words passed from the lips. 

May these words from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi come to mind this Valentine's Day:  "O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to . . . be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive. 

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Kim A. Talbert is an award-winning nonfiction author, columnist, speaker and writing conference instructor. She is also the author of The Burning Beast, www.theburningbeast.com  

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)