A reflection on St. Valentine's Day



Translated and adapted from “Svetosavlje”, a Serbian internet discussion group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/svetosavlje

            Today is one of those holidays when an Orthodox Christian feels something very inappropriate is happening. It is February 14th, the Day of love in the West. All of our cities are decked with bright and gaudy red, pink and white hearts, pictures of doves and other "love-birds", roses and pathetic, chubby creatures with fluffy wings, bows and arrows representing cherubs. All of a sudden everyone is remembering the ones they love, the sales of flowers and extravagant heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are soaring, as are the prices… almost every radio station is playing endless crooning melodies, while TV commercials are enticing consumers to buy anything from clothes to stereos "for their loved ones", not to mention the shopping malls which actually sell these "love items." Many will enjoy a one-day display of "love." The restaurants and theaters will be full, but many hearts remain empty, in spite of all the gifts and "symbols" of love.

            It is sad that many Orthodox will take part in this holiday, which is just another worldly fad. It is sad that they will forget that on February 1st/14th  our Church commemorates St. Tryphon, who was martyred for the Faith he witnessed, after unspeakable tortures, during the reign of the emperor Decius in Nicea.

            The Holy Priest-martyr Valentine, whom our Church remembers on July 30th/August 13th, was slain for confessing the Orthodox Faith and the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Rome during the reign of one of the most ardent persecutors of Christians, Claudius II. He burned with Christ's Love and because of this Love, the Love described by St Paul in his First epistle to the Corinthians, he was martyred by the pagans. Comparing the martyrdom of these two saints and the Christian love that consumed their hearts with "Valentine's Day" as it is celebrated in western countries today, one cannot help asking: what kind of a distorted idea of love are we being taught by this consumer-oriented outpour of "love?" What blasphemy is this, what hypocrisy in front of that entire army of Christian Martyrs who suffered and are still suffering today for their faith, out of Love for Christ?

            As of tomorrow all the pink hearts, chubby "angels", candy boxes and flowers will be on sale, pushed into a corner of the department store, and the doily-shaped advertisements will be replaced by some other "symbol" of consumerist madness, perhaps this time by pastel-hued bunny rabbits, hens, chickens and tulips, caricatures that have as much in common with Christ's Resurrection as the Holy Martyrs Triphon and Valentine have with the caricature of "love", as much as the hideous figure of "Santa" has with St Nicholas the Wonderworker, or the Nativity of our Lord with yet another "Christmas shopping spree."

            By the prayers of the Holy Martyrs Tryphon and Valentine and all the holy martyrs who, in all times suffered for Your sake and the sake of Your Love, O Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us!