Blog Post - February 14th
S. Valentine| SS. Cyril and Methodius| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar, we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Valentine. A story about this Feast Day can be found below:
Because of his Nuptial Masses, he became the patron of lovers, the affianced, and married couples, and fortuitous to the priest's association with romance is the belief that halfway through the month of February, birds choose their mates, hence St. Valentine's association with birds, especially lovebirds and doves. Chaucer mentions this belief in his “Parliament of Foules”:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
Also fortuitous is the fact that red is both the color of Martrys and the color associated with love. Red roses are also a symbol of both martyrom and love, and had also always been associated with the Roman godess of love, Venus.
To send a very Catholic valentine to someone you love, how about using a paraphrase of today's Collect as the basis for the text?
Grant, I beseech Thee, O almighty God, that (Name of loved one), who celebrates the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all the evils that threaten (him/her). Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.
…with all the personal, mushy stuff at the bottom! For a romantic card for a spouse, some of the poetry found in Solomon's Canticle of Canticles — a Book which uses marital love as a metaphor for God's love for His Church — cannot be surpassed for inspiration.
As to foods, oysters, chocolates, champagne, and heart-shaped foods are all considered to be romantic.
Note to men: Don't forget St. Valentine's Day. Even the least romantic woman appreciates being remembered on this lovely holy day. One needn't (shouldn't!) spend lavish sums and buy into the marketing nonsense that has become associated with all big Christian Feasts, but a single red rose is just as lovely as an $80 dollar dozen, and chocolates in a small box are as delicious as those in a large box; it is the thought that counts. And it costs nothing to tell her you love her…
And a note to all: be sure to wish people “Happy Saint Valentine's Day” rather than just “Happy Valentine's Day.” This will help bring the deeper meaning of the day into focus!
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger
The holy Priest Valentine lived at the time of the Emperor Claudius. He was held in high estimation, both by the Christians and heathens, on account of his natural amiability, wisdom and virtue. Claudius himself desired to see him, and on his being brought into his presence, said to him: “Why do you refuse to be my friend, when I wish to become yours? Nothing in you displeases me, but that you confess a faith which is against our gods.” Valentine replied: “O Emperor! if you knew the God I worship, you would consider yourself blessed to serve Him. He it is who has given you your life and your crown, and who alone can make you eternally happy.” One of those present interrupted him, saying: “What think you, then, of Jupiter,–of Mercury?” “I think that they have been wicked men, as their lives show,” answered the Priest;” and, therefore, they are unworthy to be called gods.” “That is sacrilege!” cried many: “Valentine deserves to die!” Valentine begged the Emperor graciously to lend him his ear, only for a short space of time, that he might defend his words.
Having received permission to speak, he placed the falsity, of the heathen gods and the truth of the God of the Christians so clearly before their eyes, that the Emperor, prepossessed in his favor, said to those surrounding him: “I must confess this man speaketh with much reason, and nothing can be said to confute his teaching.” Calphurnius, the Governor, who was also present, on hearing the Emperor speak thus, was filled with fear that he would embrace the Christian faith, and cried: “Valentine is a sorcerer, a blasphemer of the gods of the Empire! He must die, or an insurrection will break out among the people!” This speech alarmed the Emperor to such a degree that he gave up the holy Priest entirely into the hands of the Governor.
Calphurnius immediately cast him into a dungeon, and gave orders to Judge Asterius to accuse him as an enemy of the gods, according to law. Asterius wished first to make an attempt to win over the Priest, who was so universally loved, from the Christian faith, but to the good fortune of the judge, the contrary took place. Valentine restored the sight of the daughter of Asterius, who had been blind for many years, and, in consequence, the judge and his whole family forsook their idolatry and were baptized. When this was reported to the Emperor, he admired the power of the God whom Valentine adored, and endeavored to set the Saint free, but again frightened by Calphurnius with an insurrection, he at length gave orders to behead him. Saint Valentine received his death sentence with great joy, and ended his life by a glorious martyrdom.
SERMON BY ST. AUGUSTINE, BISHOP
Today we keep our annual celebration of the triumph of the blessed Martyr Valentine, and the Church, while rejoicing in his glory, places him before us, that we may follow in his footsteps. If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him. There are two things to be considered in this glorious combat: namely, the hard-hearted cruelty of the torturer, and the unconquered patience of the Martyr–the cruelty of the torturer, that we may detest it; the patience of the Martyr, that we may imitate it. Hear what the Psalmist says in reproof of wickedness: Be not emulous of evildoers, for they shall shortly wither away as grass. But the Apostle teaches patience with the wicked in the words: Patience is necessary for you, that you may receive the promise.
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury's time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.
SS. Cyril and Methodius
(d. 869; d. 884)
Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples.
After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post.
A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task.
Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then.
That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit.
Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release.
Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated.
Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church.
Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).
Holiness means reacting to human life with God’s love: human life as it is, crisscrossed with the political and the cultural, the beautiful and the ugly, the selfish and the saintly. For Cyril and Methodius much of their daily cross had to do with the language of the liturgy. They are not saints because they got the liturgy into Slavonic, but because they did so with the courage and humility of Christ.
“Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community. Rather she respects and fosters the spiritual adornments and gifts of the various races and peoples.... Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is maintained, the revision of liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, religions, and peoples, especially in mission lands” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 37, 38).
Patron Saint of:
Keep Me Focused, Lord:
Time is what I pray about most. The older I get, the more I appreciate the preciousness of time. I only have so much of it allotted to me, and there are no reruns. I have to be busy attending to my Father's work before the sand in my hourglass runs out.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Lift up your heart(s), let us rise to the throne of God.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
This first notebook of Saint Faustina begins her private revelations given from the Heart of Jesus to her. She writes in a beautiful and simple way. Though, as mentioned in the introduction to this book, her actual words are not quoted in these reflections that follow, the messages that she received and articulated are presented.
In truth, her messages are those contained in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our Church. And if you were to read through the lives and teachings of the saints, you would find the same revelations. God has always spoken to us throughout the ages. He speaks the one Message of Truth, and He reveals that Message in love. The revelations to Saint Faustina are one new way that God continues to speak and reveal Himself to us, His sons and daughters.
The reflections in this first chapter, based on the first notebook, are intentionally short and focused. They are a way for you, the reader, to slowly and carefully listen to the Heart of God spoken to this great saint. Read these reflections slowly and prayerfully. Ponder them throughout the day and allow the Lord to speak to You the message He wants to give.
Reflection 44: The Lord’s Gaze Casts Out Fear
Do you know that our Lord gazes upon you, night and day, with perfect love and affection. Do you know that He knows every detail of your life and walks with you through everything? This may be hard to believe because we cannot hear Him audibly, see Him with our eyes, or touch Him with our hands. But His intimacy is much deeper than the physical world. His intimacy is one that looks into our soul and loves us. His gaze of love, if we let it, will cast out all fear in life (See Diary #90).
What is it that you fear the most? What is it that causes you the greatest anxiety? Today, try to identify the cause of your fear. And when you do, know that our Merciful Lord has already seen it all. He is aware of your situation and looks at you with love. The key is to look back at Jesus, to seek His face within your own soul, and to gaze back at Him with love. There, by looking intently upon our Lord, you will find the courage you need to let go of all that weighs you down and you will allow His grace to lift you on high.
Lord, help me to turn my eyes from all my fears. Help me, instead, to seek out Your loving gaze and to allow that gaze of love to cast out all that is not of You. Lord, if I could only see Your face, radiant and beautiful, living in my soul, I would be consoled and comforted in all things. Jesus, I trust in You.