When we think of Valentine's Day, we usually imagine flowers and chocolates and nice dinners out. These outward signs of our love are the typical gifts that express our feelings.
But have you ever thought about giving a spiritual gift to your spouse or your family members for Valentine's Day?
When we recall the origins of this feast day, we can see why a spiritual gift might actually be in better keeping with "who" and "what" the feast is about.
Originating as a Western Christian feast honoring St. Valentinus, Valentine's Day is currently recognized as a celebration of romantic love on February 14 in many places around the world. While the Catholic Church in the United States now celebrates the memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius on February 14, the Church still recognizes Saint Valentine as a martyr of the Church.
Yes, his feast was removed from the general Roman calendar in 1969 due to the resulting confusion of possibly three or four Valentines being treated as one person over the years.
So, Who Was Saint Valentine?
One written account of Saint Valentine says that he refused to renounce his faith and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269 (although some say it was in the year 269, 270, 273 or 280).
Other depictions of St. Valentine's arrests say that he secretly performed marriage rites for couples because soldiers were not allowed to take a wife at that time. (If soldiers were married, the idea goes, they would be less willing to risk losing their lives in battle.) Eventually, his activity was discovered, and he was martyred.
There is another popular story about St. Valentine, according to Catholic Online: "Another variation of the legend of St. Valentine says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, 'Your Valentine.'"
Regardless of which story is the true one, all the depictions of Saint Valentine tell of his martyrdom.
In other words, what we do know is that Saint Valentine would not renounce his love for God—and was killed for his faith.
While chocolates and flowers are important demonstrations of our love and gratitude, we could also give a gift in honor of Saint Valentine. That is, along with a more traditional Valentine's Day gift, you could consider giving your spouse or family member a spiritual gift.
Spiritual Gifts To Give Your Loved One On The Feast Of Saint Valentine
The following are some gifts of a spiritual nature:
- Fast for the one you love. Give something up for the intentions of your spouse. You might do this secretly, without telling them about it, or you may decide to do this together—intentionally offering up something for one another.
- Start a novena for your spouse or for an intention within your marriage. The following Saint Valentine novena prayer is from The National Shrine of Divine Mercy:
Almighty God, grant we beseech You,
that we who celebrate the glorious martyrdom of St. Valentine, Your servant,
may by his intercession be filled with the love of God and neighbor
and be delivered from all the evils that threaten us.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Pray and ask God to help you to look past the faults of your spouse and to help you forgive any hurts that you might suffer.
- Create a "spiritual bouquet" of prayers, such as a number of rosaries that you will pray for the one you love. A spiritual bouquet can be handwritten on a card and given along with a real bouquet of flowers!
- Find unique gifts that can deepen their prayer life, such as this Swarovski Crystal Chaplet of the Two Hearts or this St. Valentine Rosary.
Maybe this list will inspire you with more ideas!
So, along with the candy, flowers, and fancy meals, add gifts of a spiritual nature on Valentine's Day.
Most of all, pray that you and all those you love will be together in heaven with Saint Valentine one day!