Why Valentine’s is red-letter day

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AMID the Duterte administration’s initiatives to distribute condoms in public schools and undermine the Supreme Court’s injunction against the contraceptive-based Reproductive Health Law of 2012 by issuing an executive order to fast-track its implementation, Catholic pro-life groups last Feb. 14 continued their annual activity of distributing candies especially to young people with messages of chastity and true love. Many members of the Thomasian community would be familiar with the campaign since it is often carried out at the Dangwa flower hub near the campus, where many UST students buy flowers to present to their girlfriends or boyfriends as an expression of the purity of their intentions. Because many of us are familiar with the Dangwa frenzy every V-Day, how we wish that pro-life groups had chosen flowers instead of candies to express the real message of Valentine’s. Flowers would have been just as sweet if not sweeter to express one’s love; to be sure, they would be calorie-free.

Just the same, we commend pro-life groups for checking misconceptions about V-Day and the state’s nefarious attempts to promote population control, social engineering, and the commercial interests of manufacturers of condoms and contraceptives by capitalizing on such misconceptions. But of course, now as before, the government is saying it distributes condoms to curb HIV-Aids infections. But government has been distributing them even as HIV-Aids incidence continues to rise. Obviously they may have only abetted promiscuity and sexual recklessness. Safe sex is not the answer to HIV-Aids, but behavioural, nay moral, responsibility. Rather than make V-Day an occasion to distribute condoms, government should make it an occasion for values formation. But of course, government is most bereft of moral values.

V-Day after all is part of the old Catholic calendar. It is a religious feast.

It was on that same day in 269 that St. Valentine was martyred under Emperor Claudius II for administering marriages of Christian couples and helping persecuted Christians. During that time, both acts were considered crimes. Valentine was tortured and ordered to renounce his faith. When he refused, he was executed outside the Flaminian Gate (presently known as Porta de Popolo) in Rome.

Some details of St. Valentine’s life actually vary from one story to another. One common Church chronicle depicts him as a former bishop who went under house arrest with Judge Asterius. The judge challenged the validity of his faith and Christianity by asking him to restore the sight of his blind daughter. Miraculously, Valentine succeeded after placing his hands over the child’s eyes. The judge then converted to Christianity and freed all Christian prisoners. Unfortunately, Valentine was arrested under Claudius for secretly bestowing the sacrament of matrimony allegedly to keep husbands from becoming soldiers for the empire and going off to war.

And that is why the color motif of V-Day is red: red to represent a martyr’s death; red to represent a saint’s ultimate sacrifice to rescue others from the horrors and bloodshed of war. War’s motif is likewise scarlet. So V-Day also drives home the point: Make love, not war. Applied to the present national situation: Make love, not (drug) wars—or extra-judicial killings.

Today, we must not forget to see Valentine’s Day as a commemoration of the life of the patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages. It was on the 14th of February that the crimson hue transforms from symbolizing earthly passion to representing martyrdom as the greatest form of love. Red became neither just a color of bravery nor sensuality, but sainthood and living by the example of Christ.

Valentine’s Day is not only a reminder to manifest love through lavish presents, fine dining and romantic poetry, but also to relish the gift of family and close friends.

V-Day is not about lust and sex, motels and condoms, as the rather hopelessly dense-brained Esperanza Cabral thought of it when she started practice of distributing condoms every V-day when she was health chief. V-Day is not a day for sex education, but moral education. The state makes a self-serving move when it distributes condoms for free to young people and when it requires mandatory sex education in the curriculum. It is self-serving because the state is giving itself the excuse to use taxpayers’ money to buy the condoms (overpriced and laden with kickbacks) and burden the curriculum with subjects that would require instructionals and textbooks (also overpriced and laden with kickbacks).

To be sure, sex education of the young should be left to their parents. The state says parents are too embarrassed or awkward to discuss sensitive matters about sex with their kids. But does the state have the proper moral sensitivity–and moral formation–to discuss them? If one goes by the poor record of the public education system, with its record of incompetence and corruption, then the state should contracept itself to extinction.

The Catholic Church is pro-life and pro-family. It is only fitting that as a moral institution, the Church fights forces condoning premarital sex and sexual promiscuity, distributing condoms, contraceptives and even abortifacients, disregarding parents in the sexual rearing of their kids (a form of social engineering much like Plato’s Republic), carrying out extra-judicial killings, and attempting to restore the death penalty. Such acts come from the forces of death. Such acts cultivate the culture of death. In the face of all this, the Church upholds life, family and love.

True love requires us to make sacrifices. In this case, we are summoned to embody the virtues of purity and chastity. Under the veil and beauty of the sacrament so loved by St. Valentine, let us be blessed by the true grace of martyrdom as citizens of a nation that must provide charity and compassion to those in need, especially the poor victims of genocidal drug wars and draconian social engineering.

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