Enjoy a Valentine’s Day Reflection

Love gives everything

A reflection By Sister Anna Marie Reha, Provincial Councilor

Valentine’s Day became my favorite non-religious holiday during the 1980s when I was helping with Teens Encounter Christ (TEC), a three-day retreat based on the Paschal Mystery of Jesus that invites older adolescents and young adults to encounter Christ in ways that many have not experienced.

Heart shape etched into snow.Walking with youth as they experienced strong and emotional encounters with Christ was inspirational and awe inspiring. These retreats offered an opportunity to share with young people that the mystery of God’s love is not only abundant, but also inexhaustible, present at the beginning when God brought forth all that is, singing in Jesus' incarnation, life, death and resurrection, and pulsing through each of us as Spirit.

Because President’s Day gave me a three-day weekend, it was the perfect time to serve on TEC retreats and it usually fell on or near Valentine’s Day. The history of Valentine's Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery, and some may call this day fanciful and commercialistic as people get caught up in buying sweet things, red things and pretty things. But I will not be put off, because in the end it is what we make of it. For me, it is a time to ponder and seek the internal aim to find authenticity in showing love to the world and reveling in how much we are loved: by God, family, friends and community.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians speaks to that love when he says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

“You Are Sent,” the Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, speaks about love, “My God, you call me to be one with you and send me to proclaim your love through my life. ...I vow to live forever consecrated celibacy, gospel poverty, and apostolic obedience, in community, according to the constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.” (Cf. G.D., 30)

Love, sacrifice and commitment are the true meaning of Valentine’s Day. And so, let us love generously, abundantly, open-heartedly. Just as the folks who participated in TEC discovered, may the way of love be found in our encounters with Jesus Christ and expressed in living unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial and redemptive love. In the words of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, author and lecturer, “Our heart knows what our mind has forgotten – it knows the sacred that is within all that exists, and through a depth of feeling we can once again experience this connection, this belonging.”

Let Valentine’s Day be a day of encounter and connection … and love.

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