Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Presidents Day! (A little trivia for you…)

Washington’s birthday is more commonly referred to as Presidents Day and is dedicated to honoring George Washington, the first president of the United States.  It is considered to be the first public holiday declared specifically to celebrate the life and accomplishments of one individual.  Schools often dedicate classwork to George Washington around the time of his birthday to teach them the importance of Washington’s contributions to the formation of the United States.

The U.S. Senate has a long standing tradition to read George Washington’s Farewell Address every year in observance of his birthday.  This tradition first started in 1862 and is still being practiced.

Since 1971, the public holiday has been observed on the third Monday in February however Washington’s actual birthday was February 22, 1732.  Because the observed date of his birthday is now set for the third Monday in February, it is impossible for the holiday to ever fall on Washington’s actual birthday!  The latest possible date for the public holiday is February 21.

-Robin Swank

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day

The life of St. Valentine is shrouded in mystery. St. Valentine is thought to have been a priest in Rome who was persecuted and martyred for his refusal to give up his faith. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom. One thing is for sure though, the theme of love weaves it’s way through every one of these legends about St. Valentine. 

With so many contrary and confusing beliefs about love present in today's society, it’s a good idea to take a step back this week and review what love really is.

First of all, there is a lot to this subject of “Love”. Pope Benedict wrote a whole encyclical on Love and I would encourage you to take a look at it:

Anyway, it basically comes down to this, throughout the course of our lives we encounter different forms of Love. Here are just a few forms of love that I pulled from the Catechism.

Love for the Lord

There’s a reason why I list this first. In Matthew, when Jesus was asked what command was the greatest, he responds “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. 

Our love for the Lord should be the driving factor for every other kind of love there is. In fact, you could go so far as to say that Man’s sole purpose in life is to love God. Our Love of God is a response to the unconditional love that our Lord is constantly pouring out for us. 

How can we show our love for the Lord this Valentines Day? Real, genuine, heartfelt prayer is a great place to start!

Love of Husband and Wife

Being currently unmarried I cannot speak from experience on this point but I can talk about what I have observed in my life through the example of my parents and what I have learned from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

The purpose of this union instituted by God is: 

1) To help each other grow in Love for Jesus and hopefully make it to heaven 

2) To have children (and teach the Faith to them)

I don’t feel like the first item in this list is talked about often enough. 

I really like this line from Pope Benedict XVI Encyclical titled “God is Love”:
Love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvelous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love.”
The fullness of love he is talking about stems from sacrifice and a higher purpose. This is the kind of love that will grow and mature as the years go on not decay and fade away.

The sad fact is, secular society is attempting to wipe out both these purposes. With these two purposes removed, what then is the purpose of a marriage?

Love of Family Members

I believe that it is in the family that we first learn how to practice love for others. I have seen so many young people who are so restless and constantly searching for their soul mate and completely miss out on the the great love that already surrounds them in their family.

I remember one Valentines day I got an unexpected Valentines card. At the time, Valentines Day was kind of a nothing holiday for me. Being a high school teen and not having any sort of girlfriend, I usually just tried to forget about the day. Not only was I surprised to receive a card but I was also surprised to see who it was from. It was a Valentines Card from my sister, and it talked about how much she loved and appreciated me. This definitely changed my perspective on what Valentines Day was all about.

How many of us remember to celebrate the love of our family members on Valentines Day?

Love Towards Your Neighbor (the stranger next door)

And now we get to the other part of Jesus’ statement from Matthew…”Love your neighbor as yourself”

Pope Francis has talked a lot about this kind of love saying that love consists “more in giving than receiving…if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us”

When we love others we love God so the first and last thing in this list are pretty much the same in my mind.

So…LOVE! Love your neighbor, love your family, love your spouse and most importantly love God! If you need help, pray and look to the saints for an example.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Peter Garcia
St. Michael’s IT and Communications Coordinator