Are the missionaries worried we’d feel alone and succumb to the depths (or the shores) of self-pity because we have no Valentine’s Day plan? Yes, we may have no Valentine’s Day plan, but Love Himself has a plan for us.
We started the night by playing a simple game about friendship. Love, the very truth that we celebrate on Valentine’s Day, is not separated from friendship. In many instances, it is in the ‘soil’ of friendship that love is sown and then grows! As more and more people came, our circle of friends has also expanded. What a beautiful gift on Valentine’s Day! Before we went down to the chapel for the prayer, we were invited through a dynamics to examine, see, and describe how our hearts were in that very moment. It was beautiful to stand up in front of these cut-out hearts with written adjectives on them, and in silence to let my heart say to me, “Jay-anne, I am satisfied with how I am now.”
The preaching brought us to the very core of why we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Love. The quest of finding love is fuelled by the very human desire to be happy. We look for someone to love (or allow ourselves to be found by those looking) because we want to remain happy, we want to make happiness a permanent experience. Yet the truth is and will always be that this desire can only be fulfilled by Love Himself. Our foremost need is not human love. It is only secondary and an expression of Love Himself. Henri Nouwen wrote, “Your body needs to be held and to hold, to be touched and to touch. None of these needs is to be despised, denied, or repressed. But you have to keep searching for your body's deeper need, the need for genuine love. Every time you are able to go beyond the body's superficial desires for love, you are bringing your body home and moving toward integration and unity." Valentine’s Day needs to be celebrated within the bounds of this genuine love. For unless we seek first this Love and allow ourselves to swim in Its waters, there is the sad possibility that we might spend the next Valentine’s Days alone although we are with someone or with different ‘someones’ each year. As St. Augustine said, “Lord, our hearts are restless until it rests in You.” Is your heart rested? To be single then on a Valentine’s Day is not something we have to fear or laugh at. We could be as in love and taken as those who are!
We were then invited, after the silence, to pick out a little red heart from among the many little red hearts that were attached on the chapel walls. On them are certain qualities of love from 1 Corinthians 13. As I picked mine, I was saying to Jesus, “Lord, you know well what aspect of love I need to work on to. I’ll take what You give.” My little red heart has this written on it, “Love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love indeed is not exclusive, it welcomes all and includes all.
We then had a salosalo, and we were serenaded by our own music ministry. As we sang along these love songs, it was quite clear that we have come to celebrate more fully and with more meaning this day of Love, for we have encountered, stayed, dialogued, and listened to Love Himself. It was a happy Valentine’s Day indeed.
Here are some photos of the event:
(Photos by Lousette Cilocilo)
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