IF SHE HAS NOT DONE IT ALREADY, CHANCES ARE GOOD SHE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF DOING IT AS WE SPEAK. THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR she's done it, as it is the first year in which Anna's school schedule lines up with this annual rite of February. What is, "it?"

Erin is in the midst of preparing small cardboard Valentines for each of Anna's fellow classmates to give out in the Pre-K 3 class. As I look at the mountains of these little cards distributed in preschool and elementary schools across the fruited plain and in other locations around the world, I'm not wholly unconvinced this day is not the result of collusion between Big Flower, Big Paper, Big Candy, Big Dental, and Big Jewelry. (But that is a whole 'nother column and I left my tinfoil hat at home.)

Yet, in the midst of all the accoutrement associated with today, when I was pondering the stack of Moana-themed Valentines that are currently in the parsonage kitchen, I want to take a moment to ask how much do we really know about this day? We know florists take advantage of the day to observe the laws of supply and demand, the paper industry (which we FULLY support in Beauregard Parish) cranks up special runs to produce these baseball-card-sized handouts that MAY last a day before being pitched, candy manufacturers and distributors around the world make sure there are enough sweets to help the dentists make some money, and the jewel industry tries to fool men into thinking that throwing a few hundred bucks on some bling will make up for what has - or hasn't - happened throughout the rest of the year.

But what of St. Valentine himself? What do we really know? Does the average person realize there was more than one St. Valentine? Do we know which one for whom the day is celebrated? Are we aware of what events led up to St. Valentine being declared a saint of the church? Have we taken the time to dive into how contemporary celebrations of St. Valentine's Day came to take shape?

Enough of all that. Let's move to something even more vital than the history of St. Valentine and his day.

Have we taken the time to discover why we practice the Christian faith? Have we taken the time to discover why it is Christ established the church? Have we taken the time to learn how how it is our own faith traditions came into being? Or do we simply follow the crowd and just, "go with it?"

As we in society move into observing St. Valentine's Day tomorrow, let us take a moment to move beyond the glitz and glamour to discover an amazing story about the faith of St. Valentine and how his faithfulness came at great cost. Let us, as those who claim to be of the Christian faith, reclaim the sacred roots of this great celebration, and be inspired to live a life worth celebrating not because of anything we have done, but celebrating what God has done in and through us. When you dive into the story of St. Valentine, you might be surprised at what all you learn, and you might be inspired a little more as you seek to live in faithfulness to Christ.

Grace and Peace, Lamar