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Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Valentine's Day - Vile or Virtuous?

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Have you looked into the card shops for Valentine's Day?

We should share the real value of Valentine's Day and human love with our children not only on February 14, but throughout the year. Our homes should be havens of genuine joy, spirit filled with forgiveness, acceptance and love.  Things might be bad in our society and it is easy to think that one person can not make a change, but if we do nothing, things get worse. In The Lord of the Rings the hobbit Frodo is faced with a threat to the whole world. He doubts that he can do anything. Gandalf the good wizard replies, "Even the smallest person can make a difference. It is up to us to do what we can with the time we have been given."

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GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - Have you looked into the card shops for Valentine's Day? Killing time at the mall the other day, I was surprised how vulgar the cards were. Some featured explicit nudity. Most of them were suggestive and rude. Among the 'gifts' for Valentine's Day were trashy sex toys and gadgets for perverted sex. The whole impression was that Valentine's Day was a chance for a sexual orgy, and the cruder the better. Love had been reduced to lust and romance to rudeness.

St Valentine was a martyr bishop from the earliest days of the church. In the Middle Ages his feast day of 14 February became a celebration of courtship, romance and married love because folklore said 14 February was the day the birds chose their mates. Over the years Valentine's Day became the day for a cheerful and mischievous celebration of love. Valentine's Day has never been a major Christian feast day. However, as a simple celebration of courtship it supported family values. It was also a plain folks' reminder that within the dance of our human love and marriage God's love can be found.

This wholesome and happy Christian celebration has been corrupted. The mystery valentine, the red roses and the box of chocolate hearts have been replaced with sex toys, perversion and pornography. To make matters worse, it is all done for money.

How can anyone counter the powerful effect of this corruption in our society? If you complain you immediately seem like a purse-lipped old grouch. If you speak up you confirm everyone's suspicion that Catholics are sour killjoys who are only worried that someone somewhere might be having fun. If you try to defend your faith you are seen as an intolerant, narrow minded and old-fashioned puritan.
 
Three things can be done to remedy the situation. First of all, by being positive we can avoid being spoil sports. We should establish priorities. On Valentine's Day we can find ways to celebrate Christian marriage and family love. We can celebrate love and romance with joy, fidelity, fecundity and fun. Let us be wholesome, wholly human and therefore holy.

The second thing we can do when we see a particularly offensive corruption of our faith is to complain. We should do so with good manners and a sense of humor. It is possible to express displeasure without being unpleasant. Followers of other religions are quick to complain when their beliefs and customs are trampled on. Why shouldn't Catholics do the same? Our society prides itself in giving a voice to everyone. With manners, tact and a sense of humor we ought to write letters, send emails and make phone calls to express how we feel.

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Finally we should share the real value of Valentine's Day and human love with our children not only on February 14, but throughout the year. Our homes should be havens of genuine joy, spirit filled with forgiveness, acceptance and love.  Things might be bad in our society and it is easy to think that one person can not make a change, but if we do nothing, things get worse.

In The Lord of the Rings the hobbit Frodo is faced with a threat to the whole world. He doubts that he can do anything. Gandalf the good wizard replies, "Even the smallest person can make a difference. It is up to us to do what we can with the time we have been given."

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Fr Dwight Longenecker is the author of The Romance of Religion. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com

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Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >


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