1993 Feb 14 – St Valentine (Bulletin Letters)
THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE:
Feb 14th is Valentine’s Day. It is proclaimed as the one special day out of the year for lovers. On this day, people go out of their way to express their love for the special people in their lives by giving them a “Valentine”. This sentiment is not lost on the commercial world. The nation’s Card, Flower, Chocolate and Phone Companies make a bundle on Valentine Day. Yet few know of the origins of this holiday.
St. Valentinus was a Christian in the third century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius was no friend of Christians. During his reign there was a great persecution of the young Church. Valentinus was caught up in that persecution and landed in jail.
Legend has it that while he was in jail a remarkable thing happen. Seeing that Valentinus was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons. She had been blind since birth. Valentinus welcomed the request and began to instruct the jailers young daughter. He taught her arithmetic and read her stories of Rome’s history. He also told her about the one God and his love for Jesus. Julia was a quick learner. She began to see the world through Valentinus eye’s and came to believe in his God and the love of Christ.
One day Julia asked Valentinus if his God really did hear his prayers. Valentinus told her God truly did hear each and everyone of his prayers and answered them all. Julia wondered if Valentinus God would hear and answer her prays too. Valentinus assured her that if she truly believed in the One God, her prayers would be answer too. That very day, Julia proclaimed her faith in Jesus and with Valentinus help prayed that she might see. Their prayer was answered and Julia was cured of her blindness.
On the eve of his execution Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay strong in her new found Faith and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Valentinus sentence was carried out the next day, Feb. 14, 270 A.D.
In this weeks Gospel from Matthew, Jesus challenges us to look beyond the limits of external laws and go to the heart of the matter which is Love. The original St. Valentinus understood this lesson and passed it on to his young student Julia. The first Valentine was a love note from death row prisoner about to be executed who put his love for Christ above the law of the land.
93 02 14
ON THE ROAD AGAIN:
This coming Thurs. night I will be in Ames Ia. giving at talk at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Student Center on “Why Christians Belong in Jail”. The above story about St. Valentinus will be of use for my talk. Saturday morning I will be at Graceland College in LaMoni Ia. to give a key note address to a Leadership Conference for College freshmen. I welcome these opportunities to share my life and believes with young people. I’m grateful that my position here at St. Patricks affords me the time to take on these special engagements.