Skip to content

Man Cannot Live Without Love: Valentine's Day as a Cultural Barometer and Invitation to Mission

By Deacon Keith Fournier
2/14/2017 (5 months ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

My effort in this article is to take an entirely different approach. I want to suggest that Valentine's day is a cultural barometer and an invitation.

Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer fully reveals man to himself (John Paul II)

Highlights

P>CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Thursday, February 14, 2012, is Valentine's Day. It is one of the most popular of our predominantly secular holidays in the West. Before you assume I am going to join in the critiques of the holiday in some Christian circles by decrying its commercialism, or assume I will try to find some way of confirming the existence of a verifiable St Valentine in order to situate the day within a religious message, please read on. .

Who knows? Maybe there really was a St Valentine.The various accounts point in that direction. Maybe attempting to give that kind of a religious ground to the day through hagiography has merit. And, maybe there is value to critiquing the commercialism which has accompanied the day. However, it seems quite apropos in a culture being suffocated by a materialist ethic precisely because it has lost its soul and forgotten God.

My effort in this article is to take an entirely different approach. I want to suggest that Valentine's day is a cultural barometer and an invitation to mission.

My beloved wife of thirty seven years, best friend, mother of our five children and "Mimi" to our six grandchildren, has a birthday on February 13th. So, I regularly find myself in a card store in the midst of the frenzied crowd searching for Valentines cards every year. I always get one, along with the Birthday cards, and this year was no different. What was different was the massive size of the crowd and the fact that these two days also fell at the beginning of an early Lent.  

I have been a Deacon of the Catholic Church for seventeen years and this liturgical season has become a special time for reflection, repentance and deep examination of conscience. This year, my experience of the size of the crowd encouraged more than irritated me. I saw men and women who are hungering to express their love. It brought to mind these words from Blessed John Paul's first Encyclical Letter, the Redeemer of Man:

"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

"If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created!"

The truth is that we were all created out of love and for love. We came into being as a great creative act of Love. The God who is Love, a Trinitarian communion of perfect love in perfect unity, fashioned us in His Image and invited us to respond in love. Redemption is a re-creation in Jesus Christ, who is Love Incarnate. The beloved disciple John who wrote the most cited words of the Gospel which bears his name, "God so loved the world that he sent His only Son" (John 3:16) also wrote in his beautiful first epistle that God is Love and he who lives in love lives in God, and God in Him" ( 1 John 4:16)

The New Testament was written in Greek, a language which has several words to speak of different kinds of love; the love between husband and wife; the love between family members; the love between friends; and the Love of the God. It also has a word to describe the greatest act of Love, the condescension of love, the great self emptying love of Jesus Christ.   Unfortunately, English does not. 

However, all human love participates in and is perfected by God's love. In other words, the very need for love is a need for God. It is written into our spiritual genetic code. Our very hunger for love is meant to draw us back to the One who is the Source, the goal and the fulfillment of all love.

So, on this Valentine's Day, I suggest the fact that the Holiday seems to be growing in popularity is a form of cultural barometer. It shows us that no matter how secularized the culture has become, the hunger for love is an invitation to live the message of the fullness of God's Love in a visible, compelling and attractive way. This age is populated by men and women who are primed for the Gospel precisely because they are so parched for the fullness of love we have to offer.

I further suggest that, as with past missionary ages, we reconsider the haranguing concerning Valentine's Day and "baptize" it. A proper approach to inculturation invites us to consider how this secular holiday can be Christianized. How can it be used as a part of our missionary approach at the beginning of the Third millennium? I do not believe we live in a post Christian West. Rather, we live in a Pre-Christian West. The huge crowds in that card store reveal the field which is ripe for the harvest.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for JULY 2017
Lapsed Christians.
That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.


Comments


More U.S.

The one NASTY reason why we can't take our children to parks anymore Watch

Image of An addict huddles on the floor of a public restroom. Opioids cause the user to stop caring about things most people care about.

Many of us have participated in cleanup days where we join a group of friends and pick up litter at a local park. It's just something good ... continue reading


NY archdiocese on the winning side of major Religious Freedom decision Watch

Image of NY Archdiocese gets win in major court case.

A federal court ruled Friday that the Archdiocese of New York had the right not to hire a diocesan school principal in a First Amendment ... continue reading


Stop asking if Democrats or Republicans won. Ask, 'did the American people win?' Watch

Image of Washington has become a circus because the right and left have become comfortable and agree on one thing: they should all stay in power.

The political absurdity in America has got to stop. The republic is dying, our faiths are persecuted, our nation is being crushed from ... continue reading


Bishop speaks in favor of bill to fight human trafficking Watch

Image of Bishop Joe Vasquez has praised the bill which aids in the fight against human trafficking.

An upgrade to a key anti-trafficking bill passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, and has been praised by one U.S. bishop as "an important ... continue reading


Feds take down over 400 killer doctors caught selling drugs to addicts Watch

Image of Painkillers are powerfully addicted. At one time as many as a third of all Americans were using painkillers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the feds are prosecuting more than 400 doctors, pharmacists and nurses for medical fraud. It ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.