Valentine’s Day and the defense of marriage

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Happy Valentines Day to all of America’s sweethearts, especially mine: Angela, Aubrey, Austen, and Wangying Lin. I also want to send a heavenly Valentine’s Day wish to my mom, Elizabeth Thomas West. She’s there with her special lifelong Valentine my dad, Herman Sr.

Today guys try to get themselves out of the “doghouse” and retailers and marketers capitalize. I do have to ask a question though, what do men get on Valentine’s Day? I know, if you act right and bought the right gift, you get peace of mind.

But you might be surprised to know the true story of Valentine’s Day. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, explained the following to

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Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when Emperor Claudius was actively persecuting the church. Claudius also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people based on the idea that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers, because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.

Valentine lived in a very permissive society in which polygamy was quite popular, yet the Christian faith was attracting more and more followers. Valentine encouraged them to marry within the Christian church – which he had to do secretly because of the edict.

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius. Legends exist surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison. A man called Asterius, who was to judge Valentine, had a blind daughter. Supposedly, Valentine prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.

In 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of beating, stoning, and finally decapitation. Legend has it the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter signed, “from your Valentine” thereby inspiring romantic missives to this day.

Valentine was persecuted because of his stand for marriage, between one man and one woman. History has a way of repeating itself.

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that — even to the point of death.”

So the true meaning of Valentine’s Day is rooted in the Christian faith and the stand for Christian marriage between one man and one woman. And for St. Valentine, it was based upon this verse, John 15:13 (NIV), “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

So today, when you write “to my Valentine,” remember the saint, the man — Jesus Christ — who inspired Valentine and inspires us still today.
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