It’s Valentine’s Day. There, I said it. It’s Valentine’s Day, or, as some of my fellow single people and I know it, Singles Awareness Day (that’s right, celebrating Han SOLO style, minus the Falcon and the Wookie).
Even though I do somewhat, sort of, kind of, maybe celebrate Valentine’s Day by spoiling my biological and spiritual sisters, I can’t help but wonder about more than the chocolates and roses. I mean, why do we celebrate love?
I think it’s a simple answer. We were made by God, Who is love itself, to love and to be loved. One of my sisters has the most beautiful response when you tell her that you love her. Sometimes she comes back with, “Love is you.” God is love, and we are made in His image and likeness; therefore we = love. We celebrate love because we ARE love. Told you it was simple. Love others even when it’s hard and we may not see the good that it does. Love people who are broken while we too are broken. Love, sometimes that mountaintop high feeling and other times that heart-wrenching pain that makes it hard to breathe, reminds us that we are alive. St. Teresa of Avila said that “It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” That beautiful, breathtaking, comforting, heartbreaking, life-changing love lets us know that we are alive, and refusing to feel and experience love’s highs and lows is refusing to live.
But wait. Heart-wrenching pain caused by love? Love is rainbows and smiles and your favorite kind of ice cream all rolled up into person form, right? Nope. Mother Teresa once said that “Love, to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”
I want a love like that.
With my family. With my friends. With the things that make me come alive. With every little insignificant detail of my life. And one day, yes, with my husband and children of my own. I want a love that makes me question my beliefs in a way that ultimately instills them even more. I want a love that challenges me to grow into the person God is calling me to be, a love that welcomes me home and is a safe place in this crazy world.
Love is work. Love is cost. Love is a process and choice every single day. We rejoice the most and find the most satisfaction after a process, when it requires work and toil and sacrifice to meet the end goal. Love is the most beautiful example of what this process can be.
I once stumbled upon a book at the Catholic Student Center at my college (St. Albert, you are my anchor) that talked about the spiritualities of multiple holy women and saints. One of the passages that spoke of Beatrice of Nazareth struck me that day and continues to drop my jaw when I read it:
The Goad of Love
“For the more the soul is given from above, the more she desires, and the more that is revealed to her, the more she is seized by a desire to draw near to the light of truth, of purity, of sanctity, and of love’s delight. And thus she is driven and goaded on more and more and knows no peace or satisfaction; for the very thing that tortures her and gives her the greatest suffering, makes her whole, and what wounds her most deeply, is the source of her greatest relief.”
So if love is so great, why do we only celebrate love one day of the year? Why don’t we celebrate love every single day? Is everyday love, without the glitter and red and pink hearts, just too hard? Instead of one lousy calendar day, love should be celebrated 365 days a year (366 this year).
And here’s the lovely thing… love IS celebrated every single day, in every single country, every hour, every time a mass is celebrated and the priest echoes the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “This is my body which will be given up for you… Do this in memory of me.” That’s love that costs. That’s the love we were made to experience.
So Happy Valentine’s Day. Bake cookies for your guy or your grandma. Annoy your pets by following them around trying to hold them. Listen to Taylor Swift (there’s definitely some song to fit your status today, whatever it may be… I’m in an optimistic “How You Get the Girl” kind of mood myself). Thank God for His love and the love of those around you. Tell people that you love them, even if they accuse you of saying it too much (which I personally think is impossible).
“The world needs to hear two things with strength and power: God loves you and I love you.” – Mother Angelica
The message those words promise is truly priceless.