According to Romereports.com, Valentine's Day is actually linked to a third century Italian priest who stood up to Emperor Claudius II's edict that outlawed marriage because he wanted men to focus exclusively on the army. Father Valentine disagreed and decided to marry couples anyway, even though it was illegal. Since then, he became known as the saint and protector of love.
To honor his legacy, the Church has issued a few initiatives to celebrate Valentine's Day. For instance, the Episcopal Conference of Australia published a "Kit for Valentine's Day" on its website which includes tips on how to respect, love and build a happy marriage. They also offer tips on how to make St. Valentine's Day more memorable, such as by revisiting the place of a first date or proposal. Instead of flowers or chocolates, they suggest giving one another a gift of a new commitment to spend at least 10 minutes every day sharing their highs and lows. And instead of letting Valentine's Day come and go, pick a day near the 14th of every month to celebrate their love with a special date.
Here in the U.S., the bishops have devoted a new page to celebrating "National Marriage Week," which ends today, by offering a variety of links for couples who are seriously dating, engaged or at any stage of married life. It features everything from pastoral letters on marriage to tips on how to write a love letter.
In addition, the bishops' Facebook page has launched a new catechesis on marriage and building stronger connections between husbands and wives.
And because food is so closely linked to the celebration of love, check out the "Catholic Cuisine" blog which features special recipes for great Valentine Day desserts.
Make prayer a part of your day. This is especially needed in this day and age when love, marriage and family are being attacked on all sides. Take a moment today to say this prayer, offered by the U.S. bishops, and ask God to protect these vital values for our own time, and in the ages to come:
God our Father, we give you thanks for the gift of marriage: the bond of life and love, and the font of the family. The love of husband and wife enriches your Church with children, fills the world with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness and service, and is the sign of the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, for his Church.
The grace of Jesus flowed forth at Cana at the request of the Blessed Mother. May your Son, through the intercession of Mary, pour out upon us a new measure of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as we join with all people of good will to promote and protect the unique beauty of marriage.
May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society to treasure the heroic love of husband and wife, and guide our leaders to sustain and protect the singular place of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children.
Father, we ask that our prayers be joined to those of the Virgin Mary, that your Word may transform our service so as to safeguard the incomparable splendor of marriage. We ask all these things through Christ our Lord,
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us
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Jason and Crystalina Everet, this week's guests on Women of Grace are full of ideas for how to find - and keep - true love. Watch it on EWTN at 11:00 a.m. EST, or check it out on our website!