Daily Archives: February 15, 2014

Celebrating the Ordinary; Celebrating in the Ordinary

One of the great puzzlements of “holidays” and “holy days” is the extent to which we take time out to put extra emphasis on what we should already emphasize. People will say, “I wish it could be Christmas every day,” and it can: pray the Rosary. Be generous. Remember every day that the Word became flesh and dwells among us, and we have seen his glory. So, too, “Valentine’s Day,” aside from commercialism (which itself gets a bit repetitious in our culture–it’s one thing in cultures that aren’t so accustomed to luxury where a monthly day of splurging means something). Don’t get me wrong: I’m a “romantic,” but that’s precisely why Valentine’s Day has come to be a bit ho-hum. I was tempted to write something along the lines of “Spent Valentine’s Day the ‘old married couple’ way: we took alternating naps,” which was true, but that got me thinking about whether Mary and I have *ever* really “celebrated” Valentine’s Day.
We always commemorate our Engagement Anniversary on January 15, so there’s that. Our first Valentine’s Day was long distance, and we celebrated it on President’s Day weekend. Our first “regular date,” as it were, was a trip to a McDonald’s in Valdosta, GA, that President’s Day weekend in 2000. We have had the movie _She’s All That_ sitting in our Amazon Instant Video queue for a while now–not sure which of us put it there, but mainly because of the _Psych_ connections (didn’t even realize Dule Hill was in it). Something in me said there was a significance to watching it the night before Valentine’s Day, besides just looking for a romantic comedy to watch, and I realized it this evening: Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” was playing at that McDonald’s 14 years ago.
So, that’s about it for Valentine’s Day here. I learned early on that flowers and cards work better when they have extra impact, when they’re unexpected or can be shown off. I randomly bought Mary flowers once before Allie was born, and when I came to pick her up from school, I left them in the front office and went back out to the car. The office paged her after school and said, “There’s a message for you in the office.” She got up there, and they were like, “That kind of thing stops after the baby’s born.” I took that as a challenge. I’d regularly buy cards and mail them to her at school, and at least once a year on an “ordinary day,” I’d buy flowers and bring them to school.
I firmly believe that keeping gestures like that as part of the routine of marriage is as important as ritual prayer is in the spiritual life, but it also makes it a bit harder to get all worked up about something like Valentine’s Day.

Would you be my martyr?

Seasonal things you can expect in the Catholic online world:
1) “Real meaning of Christmas”
2) “Real meaning of Easter”
3) “Real meaning of Halloween”
4) “Real meaning St. Nicholas,” etc.
The cool thing about Catholicism is that this is not the paradox it first seems.
There are many reasons given for the connection between St. Valentine and love.  One is supposedly the letters he wrote from prison (then why not Ignatios of Antioch or another of the Fathers?)  Another is that supposedly he wrote specifically about marriage (again).  Then there is the issue of *which* “St. Valentine” we’re talking about.  Supposedly, the first historical reference associating St. Valentine’s Day with “romance” is in Chaucer.
Regardless of the seemingly arbitrary association, we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection by eating candy, so why not a Saint’s?  “The pain now is part of the happiness then,” as Joy Davidman says in _Shadowlands_ (forget if she actually said said that in real life).  To borrow from _VeggieTales_, the “hope of Easter” allows us to see the joy and humor in death. 
[54] And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55, Douay).
If you can’t joke about something as silly and trivial as death, what *can* you joke about?
The paradox was best phrased by a cartoon I saw today that said, “Will you be my Christian martyr? Now you see why I find this holiday confusing.”
Actually, it shouldn’t be.  Christian love is supposed to be about martyrdom.

Love is supposed to be about self-sacrifice.  Gifts we give in love are symbolic of the greater sacrifices we are supposed to make for others.