Friday, February 14, 2014

Homily for St. Valentine's Day - All School Mass

+ Holy Mass this morning would ordinarily be for St. Cyril and St. Methodius—and I would be happy to talk about them because I’m sure I could have connected them to the Olympics in Russia. But I see that many of you are wearing red today. So I must ask: What are we celebrating?
(The kids answer: Valentine’s Day).
Yes, Valentine’s Day. The day of chocolates and candies and Valentine’s cards and roses!

So I have another question for you: Why are we celebrating this day with chocolates and candies and cards and roses on this day?
(I go to a kindergartner and she responds: “Because it’s about love!”)
Yes, very good! Today is about love!

Now, I am going to turn to my eighth graders. Eighth graders: you have been celebrating Valentine’s day for many years here at St. Joe’s. Can you give me an even more specific answer to why we are celebrating this day?
(An eighth grader responds: Because Valentine was a saint).
Awesome. You are right. Valentine is a saint. So, we must say Happy SAINT Valentine’s day, right? I mean, what if we said on St. Patrick’s day, “Happy Patrick’s Day?” Ireland would probably explode!—HE’S A SAINT!!! SAINT Patrick. SAINT Valentine!

So, my next question: Does anyone know anything about Saint Valentine? …… 
            (A child guesses something that isn’t close. Everyone else is quiet….)

Isn’t this interesting? Here we have been eating chocolate and candies and giving out cards and roses all because of St. Valentine, but we don’t know anything about him. That’s kind of silly, isn’t it?—To celebrate someone that you know nothing about….

Parents and teachers, this is a prime example of our post-Catholic era. We live in a world that has the trappings of the Catholic faith—like Valentine’s day with the chocolates and whatnot—but we have no idea what it is about. It is our duty to teach on these things.

Let me tell you about St. Valentine.

The first thing you should know about St. Valentine was that he was a priest! Yes, a priest! (Can you imagine Hallmark having Valentine cards with a priest on the cover saying, "Happy Saint Valentine's Day"???)

Valentine lived around 200 years after the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. And during this time, there was an evil emperor named Claudius. The evil emperor Claudius had made a law forbidding people to get married. Imagine: It was illegal to get married! And if you were caught, you would be thrown in jail. (The reason why Claudius made this law was so that men would fight in the army instead of staying at home with their families).

So Valentine thought that this was a stupid law and so he kept on being a priest and ministering at couples’ weddings. Valentine was known for protecting marriage and the couples getting married.

One day, Valentine was caught and arrested and he was thrown into jail. He was brought before the evil emperor Claudius… Claudius was impressed by Valentine and so Claudius wanted Valentine to worship the Roman gods like Venus and Cupid. Valentine refused to worship the Roman gods and so Claudius condemned Valentine to death.

While Valentine was in prison awaiting to be executed, he talked with the jailor who kept watch over him. The jailor didn’t know anything about God, but he liked to listen to Valentine. One day, Valentine learned that the jailor had a daughter who was blind.

So, on the night before Valentine died, he wrote the jailor’s daughter a pure and holy note, telling her all about God’s love for her. But how could she read the note? She was blind! On the next day, Valentine was martyred—hence the reason why we wear red and give things that are red, like red roses. And on that same day, the jailor’s daughter was healed: she could see!

At the bottom of the letter, it said, “From your Valentine.” He loved her with a pure and holy love, a virginal love—hence the white that is also used this day.

News of this spread throughout Rome. The priest who had protected married couples had performed yet another miracle of love and had in fact given his life in love for Jesus Christ. Jesus had asked Valentine: Will you be mine? And Valentine said yes! Yes, Lord, yes!!!

That is why we celebrate SAINT Valentine’s Day.

So let us turn now to the God who is love. Yes, on the night before Jesus died, Jesus gave us something better than a paper Valentine. Jesus gave us His very body and blood, soul and divinity. The greatest of all “Valentines.” The Eucharist tells us of God’s love for us. And, like all Valentines, He asks us—just as He asked Saint Valentine: will you be mine? Let us ask Saint Valentine to help us always to love God above all else. And let us ask him to help all couples that they might grow in holy and pure love. St. Valentine, pray for us! +