Today is Valentine's Day. I remember growing up with the understanding that today we honor Saint Valentine. Hearts and flowers, kindness and love are the order of the day. In grade school we had the custom of exchanging Valentine Greetings, some home made, some purchased and personalized. Being in the seminary I never had the dating, flowers and dinner thing as part of my experience. I remember finding out that little was known of Valentine except that supposedly from prison he would remind his people of the love that Christ had for them, of his love and prayers, and of their need to love each other. He would do this through notes smuggled out of prison. Thus an explanation for the tradition of Valentine cards and greeting. To all of those who are into expressing respect and love on this day - Happy Valentine's Day!
But somewhere along the line the saints honored on February 14th are two brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius - not Saint Valentine. Their existence and impact on the Church is very real. They lived in the 800's, and both ministered to the Slavic peoples, brought Christ and his message to a people who had lived without that knowledge and truth. They translated the bible and the texts of the liturgy from the languages of Hebrew, Latin and Greek into the language of the people - Slavonic. Slavonic did not have have a written language, so they developed a script which was based on their Cyrillic alphabet (named after Cyril). Cyril died first, in 869, followed by his brother (who had become a bishop) in 884. They are honored and venerated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. Coming from a Polish and Slavic background, Cyril and Methodius are well known to me.
So, whose day is it? For the Church it is the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius ... for the secular world it is the feast of Saint Valentine. Whichever we honor and celebrate, it is a day of expressing a love that originates in God, and an opportunity to give him thanks by expressing love to others.