Step #1: Lectio / Read
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Oh Valentine’s Day… People seem to either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. So often, we base this day on our experience of temporal love and not on our experience of eternal love. We try to fill our hungry hearts with lots of chocolates, oversized stuffed animals, and having a boyfriend or girlfriend. It is in the things of this world (Snapchat, Netflix, sports, boyfriends or girlfriends) that we place our love and worth instead of listening to the Lord, who loves us perfectly. We doubt God’s goodness and love, and put other things before Him and allow those things to take over our life.
In looking at today’s readings, I think they tell us a lot more about love than we initially realize. We are all familiar with the story of Noah’s ark. It seems harsh and incredibly sad that God would say, “I am sorry that I made them,” but we also read that, at that time, man’s heart only desired evil. These people had allowed this world and their selfish desires to become their sole focus. Their hearts had become completely closed off to God and His goodness. Yet God spared one man and his family. Noah was a beacon of hope in a world filled with evil. Even when the rest of the world was giving into temptation and evil, he wasn’t afraid to do what was right and cling to the Lord. St. John is well-known for writing in his first letter, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is only through our experience of the Father’s love that we can even begin to understand what true love looks like.
Maybe you have messed up a hundred times and think you are no longer worthy of love, but please know that nothing is farther from the truth. He can rebuild your heart, like he rebuilt the earth after the flood. God knows the pain of heartbreak, for it says in the first reading, “His heart was grieved.” Do not let your heart become hardened, no matter how many times it has been battered and bruised. The Lord always desires to make you new and loves you even when it might seem like no one else does.
Maybe you are blessed and surrounded by love, and praise God! No matter what your current situation is, the Lord wants you to invite Him into every aspect of your life. He desires to show you what true love looks like, and that is why He sent His only Son to die for us. In the Gospel, we read how the disciples who had been following Jesus so easily forgot the miracles and good things they had witnessed the Lord doing in their lives. God is working miracles all around us, but are we to busy filling our lives with material things to notice how the Lord is working?
Our hearts were made for the eternal. This world will never satisfy because it was not made for eternity, but we were. Today, as we celebrate love, let us remember the one who loves us with a perfect, eternal love - Jesus Christ.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
What does love mean to you? What are some of the experiences in your life that have shaped that definition for you? Good and bad.
How can you love in a more pure way this valentine's day? If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, how can you love them in a more pure and perfect way? Either way, how can you begin to love your future spouse better today?
What are some of the ways that you might have messed up or fallen short in loving? How can you begin to forgive yourself and let the Lord heal and cleanse you?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Perfect, eternal love."
"I love you Lord."
"I am made for real love."
Step #5: Actio / Act
On a day that is all about love, take some steps to love in a new way today. Find a prayer (or come up with your own) to pray for your future spouse. Start today and do this everyday! Maybe even fast once a week for them. Even if you haven't met them yet, you can still love your future spouse today by praying for them.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Maggie Overbeck, Assistant Director of Youth Ministry at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Huntley, IL.
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