St. Valentine, Pray for Us!
St. Valentine, Pray for Us!
By John Mallon
© 1992, 2005, 2020 By John Mallon
"The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell." —C.S. Lewis; The Four Loves
Romance is dead. The "Sexual Revolution" killed it. The delicate dance has been stomped into the mud under the heel of sin. But wait a minute. There is redemption. Romance is a breath of air that still retains a trace of a sweet scent from before The Fall. It doesn't seem to be able to be stomped out completely. It has a resiliency like grass that grows up through the sidewalk. But right now it is badly damaged.
Women are puzzled that men seldom ask them out. Many men feel that women don't trust them, or in some cases don't even like them, or that they are afraid to be alone with them, for fear that it might place them in a compromising situation — and it all too often happens. A man who doesn't take no for an answer may deserve to have his face slapped. If he persists or gets hostile beyond that, he may deserve to be arrested. Such men are ruining it for everyone, as are those Christian men who twist St. Paul's teachings on marriage to support their own sin of chauvinism.
In any case, we are under a malaise. The same forces that are destroying the family in today's society are also destroying what precedes and leads up to family—namely romance. The Church is a place exploding with romance; but in our lives we too often find fear, isolation, and resignation instead. This is part of our dysfunctional society. The Catholic Church—the Bride of Christ—ought to be especially romantic, because God is very romantic.
God is the author of romance. He made the Springtime, Summer nights with sparkling fireflies, Autumn leaves, and first snowfalls. The current estrangement and strain between the sexes has nothing to do with God and everything to do with sin. It is an effect of sin. Christians are not called to be reactionaries to the World's libertinism by becoming prudes, Christians are called to light the way on the road of Reality. Catholic Teaching is the Roadmap of Reality, and love is God's greatest Reality.
There can be no real or sustained romance without purity. Chastity intensifies romance and impels it towards Marriage. It inspires the desire to commit oneself in love. "Commitment Phobia" is an effect of sin—sexual sin which squanders the self till there is nothing left to commit. And, like any sin epidemic, it also affects the innocent. How many people today appear like "the sexually walking wounded" to use Professor Janet Smith's phrase. Older and younger people alike. Many people are victims, both of our own sins and those of others.
Romance is the aroma God uses to draw men and women together. It is a fountain of life. Its very intensity acts as a booster rocket to propel and sustain love into its lifelong journey. God loves love and God loves life. God delights in participating with husband and wife in creating more people to love. The devil cannot hurt God so he attacks what God loves—the results are all around us—loneliness, divorce, abortion, and euthanasia.
Catholics love God, and therefore ought to be the most romantic people on earth. G.K. Chesterton spoke of "The Romance of Orthodoxy." So where's all the romance? (Don't be discouraged, during wartime they sometimes have to turn the honeymoon suites into hospital rooms, and I think that is what is going on.) But then again, romance has a way of flourishing under the most impossible odds.
What shall we do? Perhaps parishes and prayer groups should hold healing and reconciliation Masses and healing services for the hurts and wounds between the sexes. I recommend it be under that patronage of Saint Raphael the Archangel, and through the intercession of Saint Valentine—who knew about romance in time of war. The enemy, through his lies, has hijacked romance by binding it up in the lives and minds of many with sin; thus killing it. We must take it back and show the world what it means to love, and shine like the stars of the sky, in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation (Philippians 2: 15). A very romantic idea. Maybe it will start to catch on. May you have a holy and romantic St. Valentine's Day. And guys — c'mon, buy her some flowers.
Originally published in The Troubadour, The student newspaper of Franciscan University of Steubenville, February 13, 1992 And appears in the the unpublished collection by John Mallon, "Common Sense Spirituality"
Romance is a breath of air that still retains a trace of a sweet scent from before The Fall.