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Love is in the Air
In Defense of the Faith
Thursday, February 18, 2016
J.L. Robb

Love is in the air every February 14; and much of the world celebrates the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day. Flower vendors make a fortune, restaurants double their prices, folk wait an hour or two to eat; and we call that enjoyable.

When holidays come around, one does not need to look far to find someone pointing out pagan roots, and St. Valentine’s Day is no exception.

According to Catholic teaching, St. Valentine’s Day traces its origin to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, celebrated February 15. The day was dedicated to the god Lupercus, a god of agriculture and fertility. He had a human torso but had legs and horns like a goat.

On Lupercalia, young men would draw names of young women in a sexual lottery of sorts; and they would hold the woman for a year of sexual captivity. During the celebration goats would be sacrificed for the feast, and whips would be made from the goat skin so the men could beat the women while celebrating.

Pope Gelasius I was not happy with Rome about this custom nor the way it was celebrated. Upon his appeal the lottery was changed. Instead of men drawing, now the men and the women could both draw from the choices. The choices however were no longer the names of young men and women but the names of various saints, much to the dismay of the boys. Lupercus was replaced as the patron of the festivities by St. Valentine.

Boys will be boys however, and the young men still sought the affections of young women. Over time the tradition began to include written words of affection from the guy to the gal, and Valentine’s name was included.

So who was St. Valentine? When you read his story, it’s hard to believe that his namesake led to a holiday of love and romance. He was sentenced to death in 269 AD by beating, stoning and decapitation. It doesn’t pay to tick off the emperor, especially Claudius II.

According to Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Church, Dublin, Ireland, Valentine “…was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time."

It seems that single soldiers were the best soldiers, not having to worry about wives and children; so Claudius forbade the young to marry.

Valentine was accused of marrying soldiers in spite of the edict. This was a time of polygamy, not monogamy, at least for men; and Valentine preached one man-one woman only. Claudius did not like this idea much either and focused his wrath on the Christian church. Disobeying the edicts of Emperor Claudius II evoked harsh and swift discipline.

Valentine was arrested and imprisoned where, according to legend, he cured a young, blind girl, the daughter of Asterius, one of the men who would judge him. The miracle instilled a strong faith in Asterius who became a Christian. Valentine’s last words were written to Asterius’ daughter in a note signed “from your Valentine.”

"What Valentine means to me as a priest," explains Father O'Gara, "is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that -- even to the point of death.

"If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you're going to have to suffer. It's not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don't be surprised if the 'gushing' love that you have for someone changes to something less "gushing" but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?"

"So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context," Father O'Gara says. "Love -- human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God -- but also the shadow of the cross. That's what Valentine means to me."

Valentine was a martyr, murdered for standing up for Christ and God’s definition of what makes a marriage: one woman/one man.

When one examines what’s going on in today’s more modern and progressive world, it appears that history is once again repeating itself.

According to Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Rome fell in 476 AD, less than 200 years after Valentine’s execution, an empire that was never to fall. They all do.

Europe and the Americas really need to reflect on some serious consideration of the relationship between decadence and the fall of empires. It started in Genesis, so it has been happening for a long time.

The Great Flood happened because of human behavior. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of human behavior. Israel was destroyed because of human behavior.

Like the Jewish prophets, many of the Saints and non-saints alike were murdered for their message. It wasn’t a message the people wanted to hear.

Even in the United States, one of the last bastions of Christianity, Christians and the philosophy of Jesus is being lambasted and ridiculed every day. And a lot of the persecution is because of who is marrying who, so why has everything changed.

The governments of the West need to take a long, hard look at Valentine and his message of what marriage is to God. Some of today’s gay community spins heterosexual divorce statistics and claim this to be a great dysfunction in man/woman marriage, so they can show the world how to do it. However, divorce statistics concerning the gay community are already being manipulated in the media. But God’s definition of marriage between one man and one woman has nothing to do with divorce rates or abuse. It has to do with God’s morality.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

And no, mankind never remembers history.

About J.L. Robb

Last week: Zumba to Zika

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