Valentine’s Day marks sacrifice for love

Helena Rodriguez

If you think Valentine’s Day is just for lovers, you’re wrong. There’s no reason anyone should be excluded because love is giving a part of oneself to others in many ways, not just in an affectionate way.
On Valentine’s Day, it is better to give than to receive, just like during Christmas time. There’s always someone who can benefit from your prayers, your kind words and gestures, and especially from your time.
These are all acts of love in the simplest, yet purest forms.
Contrary to what most retailers would have you believe, the true meaning of Valentine’s Day is not about showering your loved ones with gifts.
Valentine’s Day is really about sacrifice, so don’t feel sorry for yourself, like I used to, if you don’t have a significant other with which to share this holiday.
If you go beyond the red roses, pink hearts and cupids, there’s an even deeper lesson in love here. This lesson goes back to the third century to St. Valentine, a man who wasn’t afraid to show his love for God by making the ultimate sacrifice of giving up his life.
There are many legends about Valentine’s Day, but the most commonly accepted one, according to The History Channel Web site, is the holiday was named after a St. Valentine.
In the Catholic Church, there are several saints named Valentine or Valentinus. The earliest were all martyrs.
The most popular St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. But Valentine was said to have continued to perform marriages in secret. Other stories suggest he was killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons.
Valentine’s Day didn’t start until about 800 years after this St. Valentine’s death.
According to Catholic Online and other Web sites, Valentine’s Day replaced a pagan Roman celebration held in mid-February to the god Lupercus, commemorating young men’s rites of passage. Young men would draw names of girls from a box and that girl would be his sexual companion for a year. To stop this practice, it is said that Pope Gelasius ordered that instead of women’s names, the box would contain names of saints. Men and women would draw from the box and emulate the ways of the saints they drew.
Still, another legend tells of a young man named Valentine who wrote his sweetheart a card while in prison and signed it, “With love, your Valentine.”
Regardless of which Valentine’s Day story you believe, it is still all about love. And I think sacrifice is the ultimate expression of love. We should not forget that on Valentine’s Day.
Think of the stories we hear in the news about parents diving into stormy waters or running into burning buildings to save their children. Many would give up their own lives. Think of the sacrifices your parents made for you while you grew up.
Valentine’s Day is about love. That love should extend outside of your family to your neighbors. “Who is my neighbor?” you might ask. As Jesus once said, your neighbor is anyone who needs your help.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:
Helena_Rodriguez@link.freedom.com