Happy Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, two brothers who lived in the 9th Century, and St. Valentine who lived in the 3rd Century. You can read the details of the brothers’ lives by clicking here. The greatest inspiration drawn from their story is their courage, humility and love of Christ. These virtues go hand-in-hand with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, which in turn inspires believers to strive for the same.
I have a real appreciation for firefighters. When we run out they run in to save lives with passion. A friend in college was a rookie fireman. He save the life of a young boy trapped in a house fire. The child, in fear, hid behind a door. My friend was able to find the child in the dark, smoked-filled home. He carried him to safety and went back in to help extinguish the blaze. No lives were lost. I gave my friend a pack of “Life-Saver” candy the next day! He was humbly shaken but happy he was able to preserve this family. He was honored that same year because of his bravery.
Despite absence on the General Roman Calendar, because so little is known about him, the Church still recognizes St. Valentine as a Roman Martyr, honoring him on this date. The 3rd century brought much strife for those who worked to Christianize the world. Legend has it St. Valentine was imprisoned by the Emperor for marrying Christian couples, possibly to keep husbands from having to go into battle for the Romans, and for protecting persecuted Christians. He was executed on this date around 270AD.
It takes courage to share the Good News of Christ knowing the worldly influence is against it. We, too, face similar “fires” when sharing the love of Jesus. The present-day persecution is subliminal as we see the attack upon marriage, families, faith communities and religious liberty, to name a few.
Through the Holy Spirit we are given the graces at Baptism and Confirmation to grow in courage and turn away from fear. Fear paralyzes, courage energizes. Our courage enables us to profess a lived-truth with head and heart. Love motivates courage. Through love we have the courage to do what is good and right for others: ie. defending life, upholding God’s gift of marriage, embracing ecumenism and defending freedom.
I often associate the word “courage” with the cowardly lion character in “The Wizard of Oz.” Lion knows he is suppose to be courageous and puts on a good act until he gets a firm pop on the nose as he threatens to inflict harm upon the innocents. His true color comes forward, manifested in fear. How ironic! It is not until he is drawn into a great act of courage, having to defend the life of someone he truly cares about (who was also the one who popped him on the nose) that he realizes he was always courageous, yet his fear stood in the way.
Where do you need to most courage? Is fear holding you back from doing what is true and good for fear of rejection? Lord, send us Your Spirit and give us courage. Amen.
I appreciate C.S. Lewis’ words describing humility. “Thinking of yourself less” means to think of others more. Jesus tells us, “Do to others as you would have them do to you. ” This discourse teaches how to love our enemies. That being said the golden rules applies to those we deeply love and those we find most challenging to love.
By putting aside the “I-mindset,” we can see the other as they truly are, beginning with, “Being made in the image a likeness of God.” When we see others through the lens of God we will be able to grasp humility. Humility tempers pride, thus resulting in knowing God is above all, in all, through all and for all. We also see His greatest act of humility as, “he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
Humility, as does courage, takes root in love. Jesus humbled himself for our sake because of love. He placed himself aside and did for us as he would want done for him. By dying to ourselves, we rise for him each day.
Where do you need the most humility? Is pride weakening your ability to do good for others? Lord, send us Your Spirit to increase our humility. Amen.
Love of Christ
A scholar of the law asked Jesus which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We are called to believe in God’s deep love for us and to share the same with others courageously and humbly. Love of God is the foundation of our salvation for through it we are saved and within it we are one. We deepen in our love of Christ (according to the Catechism) through adoration, prayer, sacrifice, promises and vows.
This brings us back to the Saints honored today. Each sacrificed their lives for the good of others. They placed God in the fore-front of the battle and served with courage, humility and love. They experienced death, yet their mission continues through the Church. Now in eternity with God, these Saints cheer us on as we strive to love deeply and live fully.
Love is an action, filled with courage and humility. One is called to sheer bravery when loving another. Yet, if we love God and love as God loves, we will overcome fear and become capable of wanting the good for another. This is true love. This is the St. Cyril and St. Methodius way to love. This is the St. Valentine’s way to love. Courage, humility, love of Christ.
Who do you need to love more? How can you express real love for all? Lord, send us Your Spirit to increase our love. Amen.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!