A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day

heartI heard someone say today that she didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because she could give her husband a card or chocolates or make him a special dinner any night of the week.

We could do those things anytime—but do we?

Isn’t it more likely that we’re too stressed out and tired from work or classes, child-rearing and chores to make the effort—let alone feel like making the effort—to let our spouse know that we love him or her so much more than we did on the day we got married? That we appreciate the ways our husband or wife cares for us? That we still find him or her attractive? Isn’t it more likely that we expect our spouse to make the effort to show and tell us how wonderful we are?

If both sides are waiting and neither makes a move, we have a time-tested recipe for the blues on Valentine’s Day. So why not take a little time to show that we still love and cherish our spouse, as we promised on our wedding day?

While ads would have us believe that the way to prove our love is to buy our loved one an expensive gift, the reality is that there are better ways to show our love on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Every day for the ten days up to and including Valentine’s Day, I’ve been writing my husband a note that says two things I love about him, and every day I leave it in a different place. He can’t help but feel special when I take the time not only to say that I love him but also to share some things I love about him.

Here are a few other great ways to show we care:

  • Start and end each day with a kiss and an “I love you.”
  • If our spouse gives us gifts, show they’re appreciated by using them: wear the necklace, listen to the CD, or use the gift card.
  • Wear our wedding ring, and get it resized if it’s too small or too big.
  • Hold hands—in public!
  • Have pictures taken together (since one spouse is usually behind the camera) and frame some.
  • Plan regular dates, whether they’re for a favourite activity or something new.
  • Say positive things about our spouse to other people.
  • Make a card or a special dinner for Valentine’s Day. Why should our anniversary be the only day we celebrate our love?

If we truly appreciate the gift God has given us, we should make sure that our spouse feels loved on Valentine’s Day and all year long.

The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place…love will be the whole syllabus.

~ St. Robert Bellarmine, quoted in “Celebrate September 2015,” Catholic Digest, September 2015

Last night, as I prepared dinner, I couldn’t believe the allergy warnings on a couple of packages. Buyer, beware: the peanut satay sauce may contain peanuts and the pork and shrimp dumplings may contain shrimp. Yes, really.

Sometimes things are so obvious they don’t need to be pointed out. But sometimes we need a gentle reminder.

I’ve been reading Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform by Elise Ballard. Among the interviews of famous and not-so-famous people, Ms. Ballard includes the story of Maya Angelou.

Ms. Angelou, at the time in her twenties and taking voice lessons, was asked to read out loud. Several times, her teacher asked her to read this line: “God loves me.” And the fact that it was the truth suddenly sank in. Her story ends with these words:

I could weep with joy at the knowledge that I am loved by Love itself.

embroidered card

One of my Great-Nanny’s embroidered cards from WWI

How many people know that God is love and that he loves us but don’t know it deep in their hearts? How many people feel unworthy of God’s love because of the things they’ve done or are afraid to trust in God because of hurt they’ve suffered in relationships? How do we help them to see?

We can be with them where they are and just listen.

We can invite them to come with us to parish events and Mass—whether they’d be visiting our parish for the first time, or for the first time in many years—so that they can learn more about God’s great and merciful love for all people, whoever they are and whatever they’ve done.

We can remind them that the Bible tells us of God’s love for us in many places, such as 1 John 4*:

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. (v. 7)

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (v. 16b)

And we can pray that God would fill their hearts with the knowledge of his love.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, may we know—really know—that God is love and loves us.

Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more generous, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth: for love proceeds from God, and cannot rest but in God, above all things created.

~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux, quoted in “Celebrate February 2015,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2015

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)





A Valentine’s Day decoration I made for my husband a few years ago

With Valentine’s Day squarely in the middle of the month, it seems February is the time to celebrate love. But what does that look like?

Does it mean showering loved ones with sweet treats, sentimental cards and extra affection? Sure. Who doesn’t appreciate—well, being appreciated? Especially if the sweet treats and cards are homemade with love, and we write something inside the cards rather than just sign them.

It could also mean carving out special time just to be with our spouse, even with no plans to go out. (I recommend Sheila Wray Gregoire’s post “Make Valentine’s Day Celebrate Your Marriage Day!”) Or even tackling a chore on our spouse’s honey-do list. (If that seems strange, I recommend reading Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.)

But here’s some further food for thought from St. Augustine of Hippo, as quoted in the January/February issue of Catholic Digest:

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

And so here are a few other ways to show what love looks like this month:

  • Volunteer to walk dogs at the Ottawa Humane Society or provide a forever home for a new furry friend at this or another area shelter.
  • Bring some valentines to veterans in long-term care centres, seniors in retirement residences, or children in the hospital.
  • Call, e-mail or visit a friend or neighbour who will be going through the first Valentine’s Day after the death of a spouse.
  • Start your spring cleaning early—look for gently used spring clothing and household items to donate to charity.

I pray that God would open our eyes to see where the needs are in our community and beyond and that he would open our hearts to respond in love.

Perfection of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul.

~ St. Francis de Sales, quoted in “Celebrate February 2014,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2014


A Valentine’s Day decoration I made for my husband a few years ago

“Be Mine.” The message in Valentine’s Day greeting cards is usually some variation on this theme. However short but sweet or long and flowery it may be, though, the sentiment is never a book-length message about the sender’s love.

Then there’s the Bible. It is a whole book—or rather, a collection of books—about God’s love for us. But God doesn’t ask us to be his; he tells us in Isaiah 43:1* that we already are:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Not only does God reassure us that we belong to him, he also affirms in Jeremiah 31:3* that he will always love us:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

If we ever have any doubt that God loves us, as imperfect as we are, his own words and actions should clear that doubt away. The question is whether we then show that love to others, as Jesus told us to in John 13:34-35*: Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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