Valentine’s Day Explained

You may have read the story about how Valentine’s Day got its name. But did you believe everything you read? Popular lore centers on a priest from Rome in the 3rd century in the time of Emperor Claudius II. One story is that Claudius II had banned marriage because he believed that married men made poor soldiers, so a priest named Valentine performed the Sacrament of Marriage in secret. Needless to say, the Emperor was told about it. He threw Valentine in jail where, as the story goes, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and just before he was executed on February 14, AD 270, sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine.”

doveAnother story is that Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a festival to celebrate the beginning of Spring. In those days, it was customary for the local boys to draw the name of a local girl from a box to be his girlfriend for the festival. Some of the “instant matches” went on to be lifelong marriages.

According to the Catholic Church, there are three St. Valentines, all sharing February 14th as a feast day. The 1st Valentine was a priest and physician in Rome who comforted the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II. This is likely the same Valentine jailed by the Emperor (without the modern twist of fiction about being in love with the jailer’s daughter).

There was also a 2nd St. Valentine, and he too suffered persecution under Emperor Claudius II. This Valentine was the Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) located about 60 miles outside Rome.

The 3rd St. Valentine was also a martyr but in Africa; he with several others was murdered for their faith in God. The point is—all 3 were named Valentine and all 3 gave their lives for love of the Lord and His Church.

After the history of the martyrs, fast-forward to the English poet Chaucer who wrote regarding the coming of Spring, “For this was on St. Valentine’s day when every bird comes forth to choose his mate.” So from these fables, stories, poems, and a few fabrications, February 14 was dedicated to lovers and prompted the sending of letters, the giving of gifts, and all types of signs of affection, one sweetheart to the other, and eventually to everyone in grades 1 through high school during annual valentine card exchange.

In all of this, there’s a Christian message about love of the Lord—a sacrificial love—whereas Christ gave the ultimate gift of salvation. We humans give far less of a sacrifice than either Jesus or the three Valentines by openly and freely expressing our love for family, friends, and spouses.

As Scripture tells us when the scholars of the law tested Him with the question, “Which commandment is the greatest?”, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39) Can there be too many valentines? We think not.

On behalf of the Stewardship Foundation, it is our great pleasure to wish the clients and mission-oriented non-profits, and all our “neighbors” a blessed, heart-warming Valentine’s Day 2018. Always know that we are here to serve your charitable giving and gift planning needs, and please refer us to a friend, non-profit, or family member that you think might benefit from our services.

No Joy in Failed Expectations

It happens every year. We look forward to the holiday lights, the office party, impromptu get togethers with friends and family, and most of us look forward to giving and getting Christmas gifts. So why is this most joyful time of the year so stressful? Why are we so good at sucking all the goodness, peace, and good cheer into shopping madness, stress, and quick tempers?

The answer is obvious…or should be. It’s the disappointment of failed expectations.

failed expectationsSetting expectations for ourselves is meant to be energizing, motivating, and a guiding light toward a purposeful life. When done right, setting expectations for ourselves can make us better people, improve our relationships, and make us more valuable employees. When done wrong, as we tend to do with these short term “to-do” lists for the holidays, we fail and stress out. Why?

We too often set expectations to meet our own needs rather than the needs of those around us. But we can, with practice, develop a wider perspective.

Failed expectations are a double-edged sword. When we only consider our own need, we become depressed. When we only consider everyone’s else’s needs, we become emotionally strung out. The key is balance. Set expectations for yourself that are attainable and reachable, and let everyone else set their own expectations and allow them to be responsible for them.

This Christmas, let’s agree to love ourselves more, be more patient with ourselves, and accept our shortcomings. It may well be our greatest gift to those around us.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

When I was a boy, we sat around the Thanksgiving table, bowed our heads, and entered into what I recall to be the longest prayer of all time outside Midnight Mass at church. While the turkey dried out and the gravy got cold, my Uncle Frank passed right by the traditional “Bless Us O Lord for these thy gifts” and instead took the whole family on a trip through the bible’s 8 Beatitudes. At the end, everyone just sat there…speechless. We’d been asked to bless what was really important—the unbeliever, the sad, the poor. We asked for mercy, good conscience, peace and the privilege to suffer for the sake of righteousness.

prayingWhile Uncle Frank’s blessing placed as much “thought” on our table as did Mom’s cooking, Thanksgiving has never been the same for me since. I’m grateful for the holiday because it causes me to slow down, stop and be thankful for what we have…and to remember that because of our faith we have, and must give, so much more.

There’s a bible story in Luke where Jesus, on His way to Jerusalem, met 10 lepers who begged for healing. Jesus cleansed them all, but only one returned to Jesus, fell at his feet, and thanked him. While we always need more thankfulness in the world, let’s also be thankful that we don’t get everything we desire. If we did, what would we have to look forward to?

  • Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
  • Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.
  • Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.
  • Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.
  • Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
  • Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you’ve made a difference.