Today is Saint Valentine’s Day. The patron saint of chocolatiers and lingerie manufacturers – not really, but may as well be – was a real saint of the early Church, a martyr, but his identity has been obscured by legends and imagination. For that reason, his feast was removed from the Roman calendar. He remains the actual patron saint of engaged and married couples and also young people. While no longer an official feast day, St. Valentine’s Day continues to be a sentimental favorite and countless expressions of affection are exchanged in Valentine’s honor today. We can and should invite the saint’s prayers for us and our loved ones on this day.
Children love to see their parents loving each other. Sure, they roll their eyes or make silly comments, but it gives them so much assurance to witness a little kiss or, perhaps, to see Daddy come home with flowers tonight or Mom making his favorite dessert. It is good for them to know that the love between their parents is something special and intimate, a love that expands to include them, but that is also unique to husband and wife. Loving our spouses is one of the most important ways we love our children.
Our children should grow up understanding that the love between a husband and wife is part of God’s plan for us. Unfortunately, our children will hear a lot about marriage that is not in accord with our faith as our society is pushed into normalizing non-traditional lifestyles. It is a challenge to balance being charitable towards others and defending traditional marriage and other tenets of our Catholic faith. Even adults struggle to understand the Church’s teaching at times, but we have an obligation to inform ourselves of the whats and whys of the Catholic faith. [You are welcome at any time to ask questions through the Comments or by Email.]
Parents may not always feel too lovey-dovey. It is part of our fallen condition. I think it’s actually a good thing for children to see their parents argue occasionally. And as long as they also see us reconcile, apologize, “kiss and make up,” or some variation thereof, it can provide them with a further sense of security, to understand that every little discord does not threaten them. Needless to say, serious issues need to be dealt with in private, but grumbling about the everyday annoyances that we’re all so good at is not necessarily a bad thing. These are actually important teaching (by example) moments. Asking for forgiveness and generously forgiving are fundamental to healthy relationships and children are fortunate when they see them in action. It is also important that we as parents are willing to apologize to our children on occasion when we have been wrong.
This is the family as a “school of love.” There are lessons to be learned! I suppose we are always learning, learning as we go. Trust in God. He has called us to this vocation. St. Valentine, pray for us.