The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” I stole this from Wikipedia, because it oddly reflects what I’ve been thinking about lately.
Do we know what Love is? We hold in reverence people we know nothing about, whose acts are known only to God. Politicians, Preachers, the so-called Men of God…our leaders and sometimes, people for whom we feel Love. I capitalize the word because it has become a religion in our world. Love. God. Politics. They are entwined. They are inseparable.
The worlds’ major religions, on the surface, believe the same things. That God is in us and all around us. That every living thing is a member of God’s family and should be treated as such. That we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” or, “what is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour”. This golden rule is found in some form in almost every ethical tradition.
We are supposed to love our neighbour as ourselves, but what if we don’t love ourselves?
This must surely be the case when individuals choose to do violence to other members of God’s family in the name of God, regardless of religious affiliation. Everyone’s acts are known only to God, if God is truly within us. Indeed when harm is done in the name of God, when Love fails, only the individual responsible can be to blame. Hiding behind the name of God while breaking God’s own laws must be the biggest act of self hatred.
We, most of us, claim to believe in Love. To be In Love and to believe in the power of Love. The hard part is in living up to the demands of Love.
Thomas Aquinas describes loving as “to will the good of another”. “Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit)”. Maybe this is hard when we are pitted against each other by the news, divided by borders and different beliefs, but nobody said Love was easy.
In order to live in Love I think we need to ignore the news. Ignore politicians and holy men. We need to rely on ourselves. We need to improve our inner conversation, to fall in Love with ourselves and to believe that we (all of us) are capable of Love. And while it’s true that some people will never express Love, we can all aspire to loving kindness.
So here’s my proposal. Let’s all be our OWN Valentine! I’m going to do it. I’m going to treat myself to something special and then I’m going to extend that loving feeling to include others. I’m going to look at every person I see as an extension of me… a member of my own family…and I’m going to try to make every day St. Valentine’s Day.