Archives for posts with tag: Catholic Church

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a day when candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones.

One source, attributed to the Greeting Card Association, estimates that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

The origin of this holiday and its theme of romance is not clear and there is much mystery about its patron saint St. Valentine. Theories include aspects of early Christianity, ancient Roman tradition, and customs of Victorian England.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. (https://www.history.com)

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. By the Middle Ages Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

It has also been suggested that in the 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s feast day it was an effort of the Church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia which was celebrated on February 15. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, and to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

It was not until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day became definitively associated with love. In those days it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Although Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, written Valentines didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today is believed to be a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Whatever the origin of Valentine’s Day and no matter what customs or traditions are followed, it is a good thing to focus on the most powerful force in the universe. Reeva Steenkamp said, “I’ve realized that although Valentine’s Day can be a cheesy money-making stint to most people, it’s a day of expressing love across the world. It doesn’t have to only be between lovers, but by telling a friend that you care, or even an old person that they are still appreciated.”

So on this Valentine’s Day “let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.” (I John 4:7 CEB)

Jamie Jenkins

Ted French shared my love for ice cream and he introduced me to a new flavor, Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan. On a Tuesday night. I try to discipline myself to eat sweets only on weekends but he said since it was sugar free it would be alright. I accepted his rationale and indulged. Yummy!

I was eating lunch with friends the last time I saw Ted. He rolled up beside me in his motorized chair and handed me a bowl of that delicious ice cream. This particular brand was not sold in retail outlets so the only place I knew to get it was at the restaurant where I first ate it with Ted.

I often longed for that frozen treat. Then I learned that it was made at a creamery I passed regularly. One day the desire to have some Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan ice cream was too much. So I stopped by the nondescript building that houses the creamery. I inquired if they sold to the public and was told that they did.

“I would like some of the Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan flavor,” I said. When I was told it came in only one size I said, “That’s fine. I’ll take it.” In a couple of minutes a man arrived from the freezer with a 3-gallon container of ice cream. I thought to myself, “Wow!,” as I took the giant container from him and headed to my car.

Ice Cream 3

There was no one at home (thankfully) when I arrived so I began to rearrange everything in our freezer to make room for this huge carton of ice cream. Needless to say, making room for it was not easy. When my wife came home and opened the freezer she was surprised at what she saw (duh!). But it was OK (?) since she understood how much I like ice cream.

Three gallons of ice cream is a lot! Especially when you eat it only on weekends. Under an ultimatum that it had to be gone before Thanksgiving, we finished it last weekend. And I was glad to see it go. I still like ice cream and I will want some more Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan flavor in the future but I will enjoy other flavors for a while.

I suspect that you have heard the expression “too much of a good thing.” Well, my ice cream experience described above was certainly that. It was a reminder to me that just about anything in excess is not good. There are so many options available that it is difficult to choose and since we cannot decide, often we try it all. Food, entertainment, leisure, you name it and there is more than can reasonably be accommodated.

excess 10

A menu at a restaurant can be overwhelming. Appetizers, salad and soups, entrees, desserts- and they all sound wonderful. Purchasing an automobile is a daunting experience because there so many makes, models, trim types, colors, accessories. Want a night of entertainment? There seems to be almost unlimited possibilities: movies, performance theaters, action games, sports… the list goes on.  Decide to stay at home and watch television and you can choose from hundreds of channels after you decide between cable, satellite, or one of the many online streaming offerings. How can one not over indulge?

We are captives to the enormous amount of possibilities so we tend to do, eat, watch, and engage more than what is necessary, usual, or specified. I accept the reality that I am inclined to over indulge and I constantly seek to practice moderation- restraint, avoidance of extremes or excesses.excess 9

Philosophy and all major religions emphasize moderation as a key to wholesome living. To avoid excess in actions, desires and even thoughts leads to a healthier lifestyle.

The Book of Sirach is a book of ethical teachings from approximately 200-175 BC. It appears in the Old testament of the Catholic Bible but except for some Episcopal and Lutheran Bibles it and the other 12-15 books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant Bibles. Some Protestant churches include it in their lectionaries and as a book proper for reading, devotion, and prayer. Its influence in early Christianity is evident. Concerning moderation Sirach says, “My child, test yourself while you live; see what is bad for you and do not give into it” (Sirach 37:27).

Words of another very wise man of long ago also recommends restraint in the advice: “Moderation is better than muscle, self-control better than political power” (Proverbs 16:32, The Message).

I know it in my head but it needs to move into my heart and hands. I want to enjoy the good that God provides but I know that too much of a good thing can be bad.

Jamie Jenkins