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Happy Valentine’s Day?

Matthew Harrison

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love is in the air.
Or perhaps it's the endless flurries that seem to be circulating around us here in Toronto.
Regardless, today is Valentine's Day, and card companies everywhere are excited to count their profits come February 15th. Maybe I'm being cynical, but isn't Valentine's day just a day of over priced roses with sentiments that should be expressed any day -- if not everyday -- of the year?
Saints Cyril and MethodiusNow I'm not pinning the blame on poor St. Valentine. In fact, if we look at early martyrology there are three different St. Valentines listed for this day. One a priest and another a bishop, both martyred sometime between 250-300. The third St. Valentine was martyred with his companions in Africa. Valentines aside, the Church today actually celebrates the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Known as the Apostles of the Slavs, these two brothers, who became bishops, were born in the ninth century. As recently as 1980 they were proclaimed the patrons of Europe.
But back to Valentine's Day.
The origins of the day seem quite noble. Apparently it dates back to England and France. There, during the Middle Ages, the middle of the second month marked a special time -- a time when birds began to pair. Men and women picked up on this, and it became a time for lovers to write letters and give tokens of affection to one who is loved.
It's a very charming idea. More so than a fluffy white bear holding a red heart that says "You're My Honey."
But I shouldn't be so critical about the day. I mean the world could use more love, right?
But for a culture that has such a distorted image of love, how do we know what love is?
Is it found in pink icing and cinnamon hearts every February?
Or is it found wrapped in crosses and thorns? In the acceptance of someone when they are at their best, and at their worst. Day in and day out.
The chocolates can be delicious. But they'll be eaten. The flowers can be gorgeous to look at. But they'll wilt.
The crosses will come. The crosses will go. They will purify the love. They will draw the lover to his beloved. They will unify the lovers. They will bring the lovers to that great Love.
And that is the Love we should celebrate in our hearts every day.

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