Tag Archives: love

Mary, model of charity

The Second Vatican Council called Our Lady “model of the virtues”. In this meditation we use texts from the New Testament to consider how Mary teaches us various aspects of the virtue of charity:

  • In the Annunciation, her love for God moves her to say yes and to bring the God who is Love into the world
  • In the Visitation to Elizabeth, Mary forgets herself and spends three months helping her aging relative prepare for the birth of John the Baptist
  • In Bethlehem, she contemplates Love in human form
  • At Cana, she is sensitive to the wedding couple and asks Jesus to help them
  • At Calvary, she sacrifices herself to accompany Jesus on the Cross
  • In the Upper Room, she prays with and for the apostles as they await the coming of the Holy Spirit

Meditation “As I have loved you”

Christ gave us a new commandment to love one another as he has loved us. It is not always easy to do this but it is very important to try, so that we spread the love of Christ in the world. In this meditation we consider various ways we can do this:

  • Spirit of service
  • Sacrifice
  • Compassion
  • Affection
  • Love for our “enemies”
  • Forgiveness

Meditation on the family in God’s plan

St John Paul II wrote that “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.”  In this meditation we reflect on the importance of the family in God’s plan and on how we can improve our family life so that we grow in holiness through it and help our children to do the same. We will consider:

  • Why family life is so important
  • How we can celebrate significant occasions together
  • How we can find God in the ordinary duties of family life
  • How husband and wife can grow in their relationship
  • How we can form our children humanly and spiritually
  • The importance of grandparents in the family

Meditation on friendship with Christ

Jesus called the apostles his friends. He can say the same to each of us. It is a wonderful gift that the very eternal Son of God wants to be our friend. In this meditation we consider what this means and how we can grow in friendship with Christ. We pray about:

  • Christ’s invitation to us to be his friend
  • How we can love Jesus Christ
  • St Josemaria Escriva on friendship with Christ
  • Pope Francis on encountering Christ
  • Conversing with Christ in prayer
  • Getting to know Christ through Scripture
  • Finding Christ in the Eucharist
  • Talking with Christ in work and travel
  • Bringing Christ to others

Valentine’s Day

The whole world now celebrates Valentine’s Day, a day on which people show special affection for their loved ones. But who was St Valentine? I answered the question several years ago in my column in the Catholic Weekly. Here is the answer, which is question 288 in my book Question Time 2.

288. St Valentine

When I was growing up we used to exchange Valentine’s Day cards on February 14, which we called Valentines, and the day still seems to be associated with romantic love. I believe there was once a feast of St Valentine in the Church’s calendar. Can you tell me anything about this saint and why he is associated with romance?

It seems certain that there was an historical figure named Valentine, but as many as three St Valentines are mentioned in the early martyrologies for 14 February. They were all martyrs and little is known with certainty about them.

One is described as a priest who was martyred around 269 and another as a bishop of Interamna, the present-day Terni, who was put to death some years earlier. Both of them seem to have been buried on the Flaminian Way outside Rome, in different places. The third St Valentine appears to have suffered for the faith in the Roman province of Africa with a number of companions, but nothing further is known about him.

According to Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Valentine the priest, along with St Marius and his family, was arrested and imprisoned for assisting Christians who were being persecuted during the reign of the emperor Claudius II, who died in 270. Apparently, the emperor took a liking to Valentine, but when the saint tried to convert him, the emperor sent him to the prefect of Rome. When Valentine resisted the efforts of the prefect to make him renounce his faith, he was ordered to be beaten with clubs and was then beheaded. He died on 14 February, around the year 269.

Pope St Julius I, who was Pope from 337 to 352, is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole in his memory, and the nearby Porta Flaminia, now known as the Porta del Popolo, was for a long time called the Porta Valentini or Valentine Gate. In 496 Pope Gelasius decreed that the feast of St Valentine was to be celebrated on 14 February. The feast was kept on that day until 1969, when the liturgical calendar was revised.

In 1836, Pope Gregory XVI donated to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin relics identified with St Valentine that were exhumed from the cemetery of St Hippolytus on the Tibertine Way near Rome. They are the object of much veneration, especially on 14 February, when the casket containing them is carried in procession to the altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and to all those in love. Most of St Valentine’s relics are in the church of St Praxedes in Rome.

As regards the association of St Valentine with romantic love, two possible explanations are given. Fr Butler in his Lives of the Saints says that there was an ancient custom of boys drawing out the names of girls in honour of the goddess Februata Juno on 15 February. To Christianise the custom pastors substituted the names of saints for those of girls. The other explanation refers to a common belief in England and France during the Middle Ages that on 14 February, half-way through the second month of the year, birds began to mate. Thus Chaucer wrote in Parliament of Foules, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day, whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

Later, in the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews wrote to a young man who she hoped would marry her daughter: “And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that you shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.” Shortly afterwards the daughter herself wrote to the same man, addressing it “Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire”.

Whatever may be the origin of the custom, St Valentine is regarded as the Patron Saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, lovers, travellers and young people. He is often represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Meditation on Christian marriage

With marriage so much under attack, I offer this meditation on marriage as a covenant based on the New Covenant between Christ and his Church. It will provide food for thought and prayer to strengthen marriages. Click on the link below.