Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2014 Nancy Virden
Valentinus, a priest in ancient Rome, may have been a romantic. Emperor Claudius II decreed that soldiers remain bachelors, his rationalization being that men are easily distracted when they are married. Valentinus secretly performed marriage ceremonies in defiance, making himself worthy of execution in the eyes of the Emperor. He was put to death on February 14, 270 AD.
The history of Saint Valentine is blurry. General agreement of his existence, although some believe he was actually two persons, helps him to retain sainthood. In fact, he was bumped from Catholic liturgical veneration in 1969. At least one dozen St.Valentines are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Because there are so many, we can celebrate St. Valentine’s Day several times per year. It is the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who may have invented our modern Valentine’s Day. In a popular fictional work in which he linked romance with February 14, a St. Valentine feast day, he introduced a date perpetually known as a day of love.
So how did Cupid end up on our sweetheart letters? The Roman mythological Cupid married a mortal named Psyche. Drama ensued of course, and eventually Cupid had to bring her back to life. She was thus granted immortality, and Cupid remains a representative of the blending of heart and soul.
There is one other active participant in the making of a day all about love. He is not a myth, fabrication, combination of identities, or even the hero of a nice story. He called himself “I Am” in front of some religious bullies and they killed him for it.
He is immortal (yes he is alive again), and he promises a coming day that we will feel complete love if we choose it now. The Saints Valentine had this privilege generations ago. We, on the other hand, still have our turn at struggling with the heart and psyche; this is our opportunity to answer the call of Christ.
Eventually, each one of us will have our day of love when we get to see him face-to-face. No romance can match-up to what we will experience at his side. Now that’s the day worth celebrating for eternity.
Happy Valentine’s Day,
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.