By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
Given the considerable confusion about who St. Valentine actually was, or if St. Valentine actually was, or when St. Valentine actually may have lived, the commercial cult built around this person--if, indeed, there was a person--is remarkable. The person martyred for his faith nearly 1800 years ago--depending on your source--bears no resemblance to the winged Cupid bearing a bow and arrows, going about messing in people's lives.
Rather, the commemoration of a noble person exemplary in faith, a model for men and women of faith and good will in our times, has been lost in bows, heart-shaped candy, amazing amounts of chocolate, and greeting cards by the millions, all professing undying love -- banner statements, to be sure, but worthy of a saint -- or worthy of real love? Perhaps not.
The love a saint embodies is quite different, reflecting, as it does, Divine love, love we've received. It is inescapable to realize that we can not give what we do not have, and we only have what we have already received. No need for little arrows, or tasty chocolate, or sappy greeting cards...we need only love.
Pedro Arrupe, S.J., a former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, addresses our need for this real love. Arrupe, it is said, was a man who found God in this broken world, a man who found God in others and a man who learned, above all, to trust love.
Nowhere is that need, and its fulfillment, clearer for Arrupe, and a consolation to us, than in his reflection, Fall in Love.
Fall in Love
(Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Good advice for us all. Fall in Love. Happy Valentine's Day.