Saturday, February 14, 2009
Faith n Fiction Saturday
Amy's question this week deals with Saint Valentine's day. St. Valentine was a martyr from the third century. Like many saints of that era, it is hard to tell what about him is fact and what is legend that grew up after him. The date of his martyrdom is given as February 14 (most saints are celebrated on the dates of their deaths, rather than thier births) and February 14 was the date of a pagan festival at which young men and women were matched. Legend also has it that the Roman emperor at that time forbade marriage because men were reluctant to join the army because they didn't want to leave their families. Valentine, a priest, secretly married Christian couples. However it happened, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers and we ask his intercession for our loved ones today.
Here is Amy's question:
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Since it's the day of love and all, what better time to focus on the Giver of Love? Besides the Bible, have you ever read a book that taught you, reminded you, or encouraged you about God's love for you in a new or deep way? It can be fiction or non-fiction.
The book that best takes the Bible, Tradition and the authoritative teachings of the Church and explains God's love for all of us and how it is expressed in the world is The Catechism of the Catholic Church. For example, by using this search engine, you'll find 326 references to "love". Here is one:
God is Love
218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love.38 And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.39
219 God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."40
220 God's love is "everlasting":41 "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you."42 Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."43
221 But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is love":44 God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret:45 God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.
(The numbers at the beginnig of each paragraph are paragraph numbers, used to cite the book; the numbers within and after paragraphs are footnote numbers. The cited footnotes are:
38 Cf. Deut 4:37; 7:8; 10:15.
39 Cf. Isa 43:1-7; Hos 2.
40 Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Isa 49:14-15; 62:4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.
41 Isa 54:8.
42 Isa 54:10; cf. 54:8.
43 Jer 31:3.
44 l Jn 4:8,16.
Since it is Saint Valentine's Day, here is part of what the CCC has to say about conjugal love:
V. THE GOODS AND REQUIREMENTS OF CONJUGAL LOVE
1643 "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."152
The unity and indissolubility of marriage
1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh."153 They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving."154 This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.
1645 "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection."155 Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.156
* The fidelity of conjugal love
1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." The "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them."157
1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.
1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God's faithful love. Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.158